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Three Songs of Shattering - I -- Edna St Vincent Millay

(Poem #1739) Three Songs of Shattering - I
 The first rose on my rose-tree
   Budded, bloomed, and shattered,
 During sad days when to me
           Nothing mattered.

 Grief of grief has drained me clean;
   Still it seems a pity
 No one saw, -- it must have been
           Very pretty.
-- Edna St Vincent Millay
I was reading through a Dorothy Parker collection, and pondering Millay's
influence on her poems, when it occurred to me that we hadn't had a Millay
poem in a while. This one came to mind naturally enough, as being very
reminscent of Parker's work, and it highlights many of the things I enjoy
about both poets - the precision of form and language (and a precision that
manages to be flowingly organic rather than sterile), the ability to find
startlingly moving metaphors in the most seemingly everyday situations, the
mastery of bathos, and above all, the perfectly controlled outpouring of
pain and grief beneath the surface of a superficially light poem.

Tangentially, the first episode of the US TV show "Desperate Housewives"
aired here recently, and I felt that the general tone and content was very
reminiscent of Millay's poetry. Did anyone else make that particular


29 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Matt Chanoff said...

I dunno, this one doesn't work for me, precisely because of its lack of
precision. Roses don't shatter on the rose-tree; they wilt. So for me,
using "shattered to rhyme with "mattered" is a matter of foregoing precision
(and therefore cleverness) to reach for cleverness. In contrast, "pity" and
"pretty" work -- but by then it's too late.

Matt Chanoff

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