June 29 Edna St. Vincent Millay: Recuerdo

I just really wanted to post a fun and beautiful poem after a week of posting some dreary and heavy poems.

The best part about this poem is how it is a perfect example of how imagery can paint a picture; how it can be the poem. In the textbook (An Introduction to Poetry, 7th Edition, Kennedy), Kennedy uses Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” as an example and explains that the poet wrote the poem when he was struck by the beauty of the people and the place and the time he was in – that in itself was a poem. (a short poem that simply states, “The apparition of these faces in the crowd;/Petals on a wet, black bough.”)

Sometimes, all that a poem does is capture a moment. The moment can be one of emotion (sadness, joy) or of inspiration (beauty or profundity). It means something very deep to the poet, but an image is just a picture (or a smell, or taste, or a touch, or a sound) or just a particular time. The poet tries to impart his or her meaning through word choice, but in the end, it is up to the reader to infer what that meaning is, or to add his or her meaning to it, because the reader will never know exactly what the poet was feeling or thinking.

In “Recuerdo”, it is a moment of shared fun between two young lovers casting aside care and living in the moment. Recuerdo is a Spanish word that means “a memory”. We get a glimpse of what happened and how it felt to these two, those feelings implied by such images as “smelled like a stable”, “the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold”. She uses words like “tired” and “merry” and shows the active young lovers going to and fro like a dance. But we won’t know exactly what it felt like, we have to sub in our own similar experiences (we weren’t there in 1920 and maybe we never even touched foot on a ferry, but it was kind of the same). So, we remember what we don’t remember, we re-live through the poet and our own experience at the same time. We connect ourselves through time, through our senses to an experience we didn’t/did have and add this experience to our own little collection of experiences. This is the power of an image.


by Edna St. Vincent Millay

We were very tired, we were very merry –
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable-
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry-
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

About penneloppe

I like to write horror, dark fantasy and crime fiction. Sometimes, I'll write science fiction, but usually I like to write science fact. I also write screenplays and stage plays. My day job is office work. I live in Seattle and I have a cat.
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