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The Poet And His Book Analysis

Author: poem of Edna St. Vincent Millay Type: poem Views: 2

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Down, you mongrel, Death!

Back into your kennel!

I have stolen breath

In a stalk of fennel!

You shall scratch and you shall whine

Many a night, and you shall worry

Many a bone, before you bury

One sweet bone of mine!

When shall I be dead?

When my flesh is withered,

And above my head

Yellow pollen gathered

All the empty afternoon?

When sweet lovers pause and wonder

Whom am I that lie thereunder,

Hidden from the moon?

This my personal death?—

That my lungs be failing

To inhale the breath

Others are exhaling?

This my subtle spirit's end?—

Ah, when the thawed winter splashes

Over these chance dust and ashes,

Weep not me, my friend!

Me, by no means dead

In that hour, but surely

When this book, unread,

Rots to earth obscurely,

And no more to any breast,

Close against the clamorous swelling

Of the thing there is no telling,

Are these pages pressed!

When this book is mould,

And a book of many

Waiting to be sold

For a casual penny,

In a little open case,

In a street unclean and cluttered,

Where a heavy mud is spattered

From the passing drays,

Stranger, pause and look;

From the dust of ages

Lift this little book,

Turn the tattered pages,

Read me, do not let me die!

Search the fading letters, finding

Steadfast in the broken binding

All that once was I!

When these veins are weeds,

When these hollowed sockets

Watch the rooty seeds

Bursting down like rockets,

And surmise the spring again,

Or, remote in that black cupboard,

Watch the pink worms writhing upward

At the smell of rain,

Boys and girls that lie

Whispering in the hedges,

Do not let me die,

Mix me with your pledges;

Boys and girls that slowly walk

In the woods, and weep, and quarrel,

Staring past the pink wild laurel,

Mix me with your talk,

Do not let me die!

Farmers at your raking,

When the sun is high,

While the hay is making,

When, along the stubble strewn,

Withering on their stalks uneaten,

Strawberries turn dark and sweeten

In the lapse of noon;

Shepherds on the hills,

In the pastures, drowsing

To the tinkling bells

Of the brown sheep browsing;

Sailors cying through the storm;

Scholars at your study; hunters

Lost amid the whirling winter's

Whiteness uniform;

Men that long to sleep;

Men that wake and revel;—

If an old song leap

To your senses' level

At such moments, may it be

Sometimes, though a moment only,

Some forgotten, quaint and homely

Vehicle of me?

Women at your toil,

Women at your leisure,

Till the kettle boil,

Snatch of me your pleasure,

Where the broom-straw marks the leaf;

Women quiet with your weeping

Lest you wake a workman sleeping,

Mix me with your grief.

Boys and girls that steal

From the shocking laughter

Of the old, to kneel

By a dripping rafter

Under the discoloured eaves,

Out of trunks with hingeless covers

Lifting tales of saints and lovers,

Travellers, goblins, theives,

Suns that shine by night,

Mountains made from valleys,—

Bear me to the light,

Flat upon your bellies

By the webby window lie,

Where the little flies are crawling,

Read me, margin me with scrawling,

Do no let me die!

Sexton, ply your trade!

In a shower of gravel

Stamp upon your spade!

Many a rose shall ravel,

Many a metal wreath shall rust

In the rain, and I go singing

Through the lots where you are flinging

Yellow clay on dust!


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