Edna St. Vincent Millay

(22 February 1892 – 19 October 1950 / Rockland / Maine / United States)

Dirge Without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Rookie - 0 Points Colleen Courtney (5/17/2014 8:42:00 AM)

    A true but sad piece. We all will end up this way eventually. Why fight it. Resign yourself to the fact that this is what life is. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Sara S (7/28/2009 2:48:00 PM)

    there's a book Baby by Patricia MacLachlan one of my favorite books and this poem is like the moment of truth... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Mike Goode (6/28/2009 11:36:00 PM)

    I found this poem several years ago and it has haunted me ever since. It strikes at both the pain caused by the loss of a loved one and at the futility of fighting that pain. It also reduces the loss in that we know it is suffered by all; by the wealthy, the powerful, the young, the old...by all. Now, tonight, it hits with full force as I sit in an intensive care room, watching my dear Mother pass this earth. I will pass this poem on at her services. The pain will still be there, overwhelming pain, yet this poem will help force the pain out of my insides to the surface where i can deal with it and hopefully put most of that pain to rest, as shall my Mother. May God accept her beautiful soul. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Lisa Allender (10/8/2008 1:06:00 PM)

    An oddly uplifting poem about death. Hammers away at the finality of death, while simultaneously arguing AGAINST the futility we often feel when loved ones die, or we face death.
    I found it interesting, and deeply moving that another commenter here, an Eric Paul Shaffer said this poem is the first he 'On 9/11...sought out to read.'
    This is a great website; I plan to visit several of the websites of commenters posted here!
    www.practicewhatyoupeace.blogspot.com/ (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Mar Mar (3/6/2007 3:47:00 PM)

    This poem was read in remembrance of a dear friend who lost himself to the world, alone on a german traintrack. They hit me then, those haunting words forever clinging to his memory. We miss you. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Eric Paul Shaffer (6/29/2005 3:20:00 AM)

    This is one of the finest poems about defying death that I've ever read. On 9/11, this is the first poem I sought out to read. There is fierce solace here that one needs in the face of the outrage death incites. (Report) Reply

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