Edna St. Vincent Millay

T h e S h r o u d

Death, I say, my heart is bowed
     Unto thine, -- O mother!
This red gown will make a shroud
     Good as any other!

(I, that would not wait to wear
     My own bridal things,
In a dress dark as my hair
     Made my answerings.

I, to-night, that till he came
     Could not, could not wait,
In a gown as bright as flame
     Held for them the gate.)

Death, I say, my heart is bowed
     Unto thine, -- O mother!
This red gown will make a shroud
     Good as any other!

W i t c h - W i f e

She is neither pink nor pale,
     And she never will be all mine;
She learned her hands in a fairy-tale,
     And her mouth on a valentine.

She has more hair than she needs;
     In the sun 'tis a woe to me!
And her voice is a string of colored beads,
     Or steps leading into the sea.

She loves me all that she can,
     And her ways to my ways resign;
But she was not made for any man,
     And she never will be all mine.

B l i g h t

Hard seeds of hate I planted
     That should by now be grown, --
Rough stalks, and from thick stamens
     A poisonous pollen blown,
And odors rank, unbreathable,
     From dark corollas thrown!

At dawn from my damp garden
     I shook the chilly dew;
The thin boughs locked behind me
     That sprang to let me through;
The blossoms slept, -- I sought a place
     Where nothing lovely grew.

And there, when day was breaking,
     I knelt and looked around:
The light was near, the silence
     Was palpitant with sound;
I drew my hate from out my breast
     And thrust it in the ground.

Oh, ye so fiercely tended,
     Ye little seeds of hate!
I bent above your growing
     Early and noon and late,
Yet are ye drooped and pitiful, --
     I cannot rear ye straight!

The sun seeks out my garden,
     No nook is left in shade,
No mist nor mold nor mildew
     Endures on any blade,
Sweet rain slants under every bough:
     Ye falter, and ye fade.

T h e   L i t t l e   G h o s t

I knew her for a little ghost
     That in my garden walked;
The wall is high -- higher than most --
     And the green gate was locked.

And yet I did not think of that
     Till after she was gone --
I knew her by the broad white hat,
     All ruffled, she had on.

By the dear ruffles round her feet,
     By her small hands that hung
In their lace mitts, austere and sweet,
     Her gown's white folds among.

I watched to see if she would stay,
     What she would do -- and oh!
She looked as if she liked the way
     I let my garden grow!

She bent above my favourite mint
     With conscious garden grace,
She smiled and smiled -- there was no hint
     Of sadness in her face.

She held her gown on either side
     To let her slippers show,
And up the walk she went with pride,
     The way great ladies go.

And where the wall is built in new
     And is of ivy bare
She paused -- then opened and passed through
     A gate that once was there.

A  S o n g  o f  S h a t t e r i n g

The first rose on my rose tree
Budded, bloomed, and shattered
During sad days. When to me
Nothing mattered

Greif of greif has drained me clean
And yet it seems a pity
That no one saw. It must have been
Very pretty.

M a r i p o s a

Butterflies are white and blue
     In this field we wander through.
Suffer me to take your hand.
     Death comes in a day or two.

All the things we ever knew
     Will be ashes in that hour,
Mark the transient butterfly,
     How he hangs upon the flower.

Suffer me to take your hand.
     Suffer me to cherish you
Till the dawn is in the sky.
     Whether I be false or true,
Death comes in a day or two.

W r a i t h

"Thin Rain, whom are you haunting,
     That you haunt my door?"
--Surely it is not I she's wanting;
     Someone living here before--
"Nobody's in the house but me:
     You may come in if you like and see."

Thin as thread, with exquisite fingers,--
     Have you seen her, any of you?--
Grey shawl, and leaning on the wind,
     And the garden showing through?

Glimmering eyes,--and silent, mostly,
     Sort of a whisper, sort of a purr,
Asking something, asking it over,
     If you get a sound from her.--

Ever see her, any of you?--
     Strangest thing I've ever known,--
Every night since I moved in,
     And I came to be alone.

"Thin Rain, hush with your knocking!
     You may not come in!
This is I that you hear rocking;
     Nobody's with me, nor has been!"

Curious, how she tried the window,--
     Odd, the way she tries the door,--
Wonder just what sort of people
     Could have had this house before . . .