An Ancient Gesture Poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay

An Ancient Gesture

Rating: 3.1


I thought, as I wiped my eyes on the corner of my apron:
Penelope did this too.
And more than once: you can't keep weaving all day
And undoing it all through the night;
Your arms get tired, and the back of your neck gets tight;
And along towards morning, when you think it will never be light,
And your husband has been gone, and you don't know where, for years.
Suddenly you burst into tears;
There is simply nothing else to do.

And I thought, as I wiped my eyes on the corner of my apron:
This is an ancient gesture, authentic, antique,
In the very best tradition, classic, Greek;
Ulysses did this too.
But only as a gesture,—a gesture which implied
To the assembled throng that he was much too moved to speak.
He learned it from Penelope...
Penelope, who really cried.

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
David Gerardino 01 February 2012

Your arms get tired, and the back of your neck gets tight, VERY GOOD,

13 9 Reply
Colleen Courtney 16 May 2014

I'm almost positive there is not a single person out there who's arms have never lofted to make this gesture! As she says, sometimes there's just nothing else you can do!

3 5 Reply
Rose Marie Juan-austin 27 December 2021

A unique and touching poem. Beautifully expressed.

0 0 Reply
Jose Gonzalez 27 December 2021

She comnects her predicament her husband running out on her. She dried out her tears on her apron as her ancestors did. It got to me

0 0 Reply
Ramesh T A 27 December 2021

Even today this practice is going on if people happen to be romantic and sentimental in characters!

1 0 Reply
Chris Potter 01 December 2015

ahh....ahH...aHH... AHH CHOOOO! this is old and dusty. it made me sneeze.

5 4 Reply
* Sunprincess * 15 November 2015

.........very imaginative, truly original ?

2 6 Reply
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Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Rockland / Maine / United States
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