Poetry Monday!: "Dirge Without Music" by Edna St. Vincent Millay

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

(For the rest of my playlist, click here. Past poems are "Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson; "The Pulley" by George Herbert; and "Harmonie du soir" by Charles Baudelaire.)


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  1. As long as we’re reciting poetry, try a bit of this one (sorry about the poor sound-quality; I need to get a better mike).

  2. Poem for the day:

    It gives me neither stab nor squirm
    To tread by chance upon a worm
    “Aha, my little dear,” I say,
    “Your kind will pay me back one day.”

    Dorothy Parker

    1. Ogden Nash:

      Some primal termite knocked on wood,
      And tasted it, and found it good!
      And that is why your cousin May
      Fell through the parlor floor today.

  3. I always enjoy logging on to my computer and finding its ____day poetry day at the VC.

  4. Edna St. Sincent-Millay was born in Rockland, Maine back when it very much was a gritty industrial city. There were 160 lime kilns burning lime 24/7 to make the unslaked lime used for plaster & mortar to build East Coast cities like Boston & NYC. Fish offal was processed into fish meal and sea weed into carrageenan — both smelly processes with liquid waste being dumped into the harbor.

    My favorite:
    Hearing your words, and not a word among them
    Tuned to my liking, on a salty day
    When inland woods were pushed by winds that flung them
    Hissing to leeward like a ton of spray,
    I thought how off Matinicus the tide
    Came pounding in, came running though the Gut,
    While from the Rock the warning whistle cried,
    And children whimpered and the doors blew shut;
    There in the autumn when the men go forth,
    With slapping skirts the island women stand
    In gardens stripped and scattered, peering north,
    With dahlia tubers dripping from the hand:
    The wind of their endurance, driving south,
    Flattened your words against your speaking mouth.

  5. Great choice, Sasha, and well done.

    I was not familiar with this before hearing your reading, but I like it vary much. I am reminded of Dylan Thomas, “Do not go gentle into that good night..”

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