Edna St. Vincent Millay

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

Sonnet 01: Thou Art Not Lovelier Than Lilacs,—No


Thou art not lovelier than lilacs,—no,
Nor honeysuckle; thou art not more fair
Than small white single poppies,—I can bear
Thy beauty; though I bend before thee, though
From left to right, not knowing where to go,
I turn my troubled eyes, nor here nor there
Find any refuge from thee, yet I swear
So has it been with mist,—with moonlight so.

Like him who day by day unto his draught
Of delicate poison adds him one drop more
Till he may drink unharmed the death of ten,
Even so, inured to beauty, who have quaffed
Each hour more deeply than the hour before,
I drink—and live—what has destroyed some men.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Rookie Nici M (1/23/2014 2:21:00 AM)

    There may be those who disagree, but I think that this is Edna StV-M's finest piece. One may follow the crowd and hail Renascence as her crowning achievement, but here in these 14 lines lies perfection of form and great clarity of intent; also, some of the loveliest arrangements of words as are to be found anywhere. This sonnet represents intelligent and complex use of all her craft- perfection in 14 lines. (Report) Reply

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