Edna St. Vincent Millay Poems >>
[Four Sonnets (1922)]

I1.
Love, though for this you riddle me with darts,
.
And drag me at your chariot till I die, --
.
Oh, heavy prince! Oh, panderer of hearts! --
.
Yet hear me tell how in their throats they lie
.
Who shout you mighty: thick about my hair,
.
Day in, day out, your ominous arrows purr,
.
Who still am free, unto no querulous care
.
A fool, and in no temple worshiper!
.
I, that have bared me to your quiver's fire,
.

Lifted my face into its puny rain,
.

Do wreathe you Impotent to Evoke Desire
.

As you are Powerless to Elicit Pain!
.

(Now will the god, for blasphemy so brave,
.

Punish me, surely, with the shaft I crave!) II2.
I think I should have loved you presently,
.
And given in earnest words I flung in jest;
.
And lifted honest eyes for you to see,
.
And caught your hand against my cheek and breast;
.
And all my pretty follies flung aside
.
That won you to me, and beneath your gaze,
.
Naked of reticence and shorn of pride,
.
Spread like a chart my little wicked ways.
.
I, that had been to you, had you remained,
.

But one more waking from a recurrent dream,
.

Cherish no less the certain stakes I gained,
.

And walk your memory's halls, austere, supreme,
.

A ghost in marble of a girl you knew
.

Who would have loved you in a day or two. III3.
Oh, think not I am faithful to a vow!
.
Faithless am I save to love's self alone.
.
Were you not lovely I would leave you now:
.
After the feet of beauty fly my own.
.
Were you not still my hunger's rarest food,
.
And water ever to my wildest thirst,
.
I would desert you -- think not but I would! --
.
And seek another as I sought you first.
.
But you are mobile as the veering air,
.

And all your charms more changeful than the tide,
.

Wherefore to be inconstant is no care:
.

I have but to continue at your side.
.

So wanton, light and false, my love, are you,
.

I am most faithless when I most am true. IV4.
I shall forget you presently, my dear,
.
So make the most of this, your little day,
.
Your little month, your little half a year,
.
Ere I forget, or die, or move away,
.
And we are done forever; by and by
.
I shall forget you, as I said, but now,
.
If you entreat me with your loveliest lie
.
I will protest you with my favorite vow.
.
I would indeed that love were longer-lived,
.

And vows were not so brittle as they are,
.

But so it is, and nature has contrived
.

To struggle on without a break thus far, --
.

Whether or not we find what we are seeking
.

Is idle, biologically speaking.