Edna St.Vincent Millay
All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a
So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I stated
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and
Over these things I could not see;
These were the things
that bounded me;
And I could touch them with my hand,
thought, from where I stand.
And all at once things seemed so
My breath came short, or scarce at all.
But, sure, the sky is
big, I said;
Miles and miles above my head;
So here upon my back
And look my fill into the sky;
And so I looked, and, after
The sky was not so very tall.
The sky, I said, must somewhere
And--sure enough!--I see the top!
The sky, I thought, is not
I 'most couold touch it with my hand!
And reaching up my
hand to try,
I screamed to feel it touch the sky.
Came down and settled over me;
Forced back my
scream into my chest,
Bent back my arm upon my breast,
of the Undefined
The definition of my mind,
Held up before my eyes a
Through which my shrinking sight did pass
Until it seemed I
Immensity made manifold;
Whispered to me a word whose
Deafened the air for worlds around,
And brought unmuffled to
The gossiping of friendly spheres,
The creaking of the
The tinkling of eternity.
I saw and heard, and knew at
The How and Why of all things, past,
And present, and
The universe, cleft to the core,
Lay open to my probing
That, sick'ning, I would fain pluck thence
not,--nay! But needs must suck
At the great wound, and could not
My lips away till I had drawn
All venom out.--Ah, fearful
For my omniscience paid I toll
In infinite remorse of
All sin was of my sinning, all
Atoning mine, and mine the
Of all regret. Mine was the weight
Of every brooded wrong, the
That stood behind each envious thrust,
Mine every greed, mine
And all the while for every grief,
Each suffering, I
craved relief With individual desire,--
Craved all in vain! And felt
About a thousand people crawl;
Perished with each,--then
mourned for all!
A man was starving in Capri;
He moved his eyes and
looked at me;
I felt his gaze, I heard his moan,
And knew his hunger
as my own.
I saw at sea a great fog bank
Between two ships that
struck and sank;
A thousand screams the heavens smote;
scream tore through my throat.
No hurt I did not feel, no death
was not mine; mine each last breath
That, crying, met an answering
From the compassion that was I.
All suffering mine, and mine its
Mine, piy like the pity of God.
Ah, awful weight!
Pressed down upon the finite Me!
My anguished spirit, like
Beating against my lips I heard;
Yet lay the weight so close
There was no room for it without.
And so beneath the weight
And suffered death, but could not die.
Long had I lain thus, craving death,
When quietly the earth
Gave way, and inch by inch, so great
At last had grown the
Into the earth I sank till I
Full six feet under
ground did lie,
And sank no more,--there is no weight
here, however great.
From off my breast I felt it roll,
And as it
went my tortured soul
Burst forth and fled in such a gust
about me swirled the dust.
Deep in the earth I rested now;
Cool is its hand upon the
And soft its breast beneath the head
Of one who is so gladly
|And all at once and over all|
pitying rain began to fall;
I lay and heard each pattering hoof
my lowly thatchèd roof,
And seemed to love the sound far more
ever I had done before.
For rain it hath a friendly sound
who's six feet underground;
And scarce the friendly voice or face:
grave is such a quiet place.
The rain, I said, is kind to come
And speak to me in my new
I would I were alive again
To kiss the fingers of the
To drink into my eyes the shine
Of every slanting silver
To catch the freshened, fragrant breeze
From drenched and
For soon the shower will be done, And then the
broad face of the sun
Will laugh above the rain-soaked earth
the world with answering mirth
Shakes joyously, and each round
Rolls, twinkling, from its grass-blade top.
How can I bear it;
While overhead the sky grows clear
And blue again after
O, multi-colored, multiform,
Beloved beauty over
That I shall never, never see
That I shall never more behold!
Sleeping your myriad
Close-sepulchered away from you!
O God, I cried,
give me new birth,
And put me back upon the earth!
cloud's gigantic gourd
And let the heavy rain, down-poured
big torrent, set me free,
Washing my grave away from me!
I ceased; and through the breathless hush
That answered me, the
Of herald wings came whispering
Like music down the
Of my ascending prayer, and--crash!
Before the wild
wind's whistling lash
The startled storm-clouds reared on high
plunged in terror down the sky,
And the big rain in one black
Fell from the sky and struck my grave.
I know not how such
things can be;
I only know there came to me
A fragrance such as
To aught save happy, living things;
A sound as of some
Singing sweet songs to please himself,
And, through and
A sense of glad awakening.
The grass, a-tiptoe at
Whispering to me I could hear;
I felt the rain's cool
Brushed tenderly across my lips,
Laid gently on my
And all at once the heavy night
Fell from my eyes and
I could see,--
A drenched and dripping apple-tree,
A last long line
of silver rain,
A sky grown clear and blue again.
And as I looked a
Of wind blew up to me and thrust
Into my face a
Of orchard-breath, and with the smell,--
I know not how such
things can be!--
I breathed my soul back into me.
Ah! Up then from
the ground sprang I
And hailed the earth with such a cry
As is not
heard save from a man
Who has been dead, and lives again.
trees my arms I wound;
Like one gone mad I hugged the ground;
raised my quivering arms on high;
I laughed and laughed into the
Till at my throat a strangling sob
Caught fiercely, and a great
Sent instant tears into my eyes;
O God, I cried, no dark
Can e're hereafter hide from me
Thou canst not move across the grass
But my quick eyes
will see Thee pass,
Nor speak, however silently,
But my hushed voice
will answer Thee.
I know the path that tells Thy way
cool eve of every day;
God, I can push the grass apart
And lay my
finger on Thy heart!
The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is
Above the world is stretched the sky,--
No higher than the
soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of
God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat--the sky
cave in on him by and by.