Saturday, May 3, 2008

"...the rain is full of ghosts tonight ..."

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

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

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.

Text from Poetry Foundation.

Mary Magdalene in the Cave, Jules Joseph Lefebvre, 1876. Image from Wikimedia Commons.


Anonymous said...

What a lovely poem -- thanks for posting that, as I might never have seen it otherwise. Edna St. Vincent Millay is usually not my cup of tea.

I'd love to smell a fragrance based on this poem, something wistful and melancholy.


BitterGrace said...

Glad you enjoyed it. Edna does not usually thrill me, either. It's the curse of being prolific, I guess--some of the best stuff is forgotten.

This poem does seem to call for something wistful and melancholy, I agree--a bit tortured, too. Parfum Sacre comes to mind, though I suspect that's an idiosyncratic response on my part.

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous woman, gorgeous poem -- and I liked your post, too.

chayaruchama said...

I adore MM in her cave- AND the Millay [ although I think Edna must have been a ROYAL pain in the ass to live with]...

Brilliant, selfish, exhausting lady, Ms. Millay.
Gloriously gifted, though.

Perfumeshrine said...

The painting is AMAZING!
Mary Magdalene has been inextricably linked to her carnal reputation, it seems (shame!) but if it is responsible for paintings like these, then almost all is forgiven.

BitterGrace said...

I have to admit, I went looking for a poem to match that painting. I love Lefebvre's nudes. That's supposed to be Mary during her years of penance--she doesn't look very penitent, does she?