Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Recuerdo”

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay

It is National Poetry Month!

Edna St. Vincent Millay, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1922, is one of my favorite American poets.

When I was a teenager, I memorized “Recuerdo.”  Dried flowers mark this poem in my battered copy of her Collected Poems (or is it a weed?).  My friends and I trailed through the woods carrying poetry books, though hiking was a struggle in our fashionable Dr. Scholl’s exercise sandals.

This enchanting poem is evocative not only of the intensity of love but also of her Bohemian identity.

“Recuerdo” by Edna St. Vincent Millay

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable—
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

2 thoughts on “Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Recuerdo”

  1. I’ve memorized a few of hers too, in years past, but not this one. You’ve got me thinking about rereading to see how quickly those verses return with some prompting!

    Like

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