Poem for November – Sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Poem for November


by Edna St. Vincent Millay

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

A precocious talent, Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950) won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry at the age of thirty-one. In the 1920s she cut a rebellious figure in the Greenwich Village literary scene due to her sexual mores and outspokenness. However, as a poet she always valued form and even though she lived in an age of experimentation her work is resolutely traditional. She is best remembered now for her sonnets especially the one above. Although its mood is a lament for passion spent it was written while she was still in her twenties.