Poetry Friday: Dirge Without Music

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Dirge Without Music

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.

So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:

Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned

With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.

Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.

A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,

A formula, a phrase remains, –but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love–

They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled

Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.

More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave

Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;

Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.

I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Yellow Roses in a Vase, 1882 Gustave Caillebotte Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., via Wikimedia
Yellow Roses in a Vase, 1882
Gustave Caillebotte
Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., via Wikimedia

Please be sure to visit Linda at Write Time for the Poetry Friday Round Up.

 

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12 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Dirge Without Music

  1. So. We are more than the sum of our parts. What we should appreciate more while we live, we may miss. And when we go what do we leave? I had not read this before. It is one I will come back to. I am really glad you posted this poem.

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  2. I am re-reading Spoon River Anthology right now. I’m struck by how Millay’s poem touches on a theme Spoon River shares — death as an equalizer.

    Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
    Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.

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  3. “They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled

    Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.”

    These lines permit me to do what some might call dwelling in or harboring upset rather than maturely or wisely or zenly moving it through it. I appreciate the permission. Thanks, Catherine, for bringing this poem back to me.

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  4. I’ve read this poem before, and every time I do, it reminds me to show the people you love how you feel now while there is still time. Thank you for sharing this touching poem.

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  5. This poem makes me cry every time I read it. Millay captures the anger and pain, but somehow also gives a glimpse of the healing that will come with time.

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