Real Poetry

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Edna St. Vincent Millay – “What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why”

So for my return to the poem of the week I thought it would be fitting to pick a sonnet in keeping with my new challenge.  This sonnet comes from Edna St. Vincent Millay.  This particular poem came in a selection of examples for sonnet poems in the book The Making of a Poem. Many of the sonnets in the chapter were the overly flowery verse that many of my friends assume poetry is like in all cases.  This one stood out to me though in it’s ability to instantly grip me with the flowing opening line.  I’ll let you see it for yourself.

The Kiss, a painting by Francesco Hayez

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why

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.

– Edna St. Vincent Millay

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