Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Day 789: Pity Me Not

The coming of autumn is complimented by the loss of love in this lamentative sonnet from Edna St Vincent Millay, whose range of work is often tinged by heartbreak, but heartbreak that finds the most beautiful words to express itself. 

What I like about this poem is how her sadness is offset by the repeated defiant refrain of 'pity me not.' This is heartbreak that is haughty, that has reached its apex and now is content with the way of the world. As seasons change, so do feelings and there's also a sense of acceptance in something just as great as romantic love - love of the world itself. For a poet, this is compensation enough. Oh and those last two lines - a sharp retort to her romantic self and a wise truth not many of us are willing to admit.

Sonnet 29 (Pity Me Not) - Edna St Vincent Millay 

Pity me not because the light of day
At close of day no longer walks the sky;
Pity me not for beauties passed away
From field to thicket as the year goes by;
Pity me not the waning of the moon,
Nor that the ebbing tide goes out to sea.
Nor that a man’s desire is hushed so soon.
And you no longer look with love on me.
This have I known always: Love is no more
Than the wide blossom which the wind assails.
Than the great tide that treads the shifting shore.
Strewing fresh wreckage gathered in the gales:
Pity me that the heart is slow to learn
When the swift mind beholds at every turn.

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