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Edna St. Vincent Millay

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

If Still Your Orchards Bear


Brother, that breathe the August air
Ten thousand years from now,
And smell—if still your orchards bear
Tart apples on the bough—

The early windfall under the tree,
And see the red fruit shine,
I cannot think your thoughts will be
Much different from mine.

Should at that moment the full moon
Step forth upon the hill,
And memories hard to bear at noon,
By moonlight harder still,
Form in the shadow of the trees, —
Things that you could not spare
And live, or so you thought, yet these
All gone, and you still there,

A man no longer what he was,
Nor yet the thing he'd planned,
The chilly apple from the grass
Warmed by your living hand—

I think you will have need of tears;
I think they will not flow;
Supposing in ten thousand years
Men ache, as they do now.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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