Poetry Wednesday – Edna St Vincent Millay

I’ve been vaguely aware of Edna St. Vincent Millay for a while now, but all of the sudden she seems to be popping up everywhere. So when I found this poem, I knew I had to post it. I also need to go take a walk on the beach, soon. I feel the same way whenever I think of living somewhere without the ocean. How do you orientate yourself? How do you know which way is north or south when you don’t have the ocean to remind you? (I am kind of asking this in all seriousness.)

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Inland by Edna St Vincent Millay

People that build their houses inland,
People that buy a plot of ground
Shaped like a house, and build a house there,
Far from the sea-board, far from the sound

Of water sucking the hollow ledges,
Tons of water striking the shore —
What do they long for, as I long for
One salt smell of the sea once more?

People the waves have not awakened,
Spanking the boats at the harbor’s head,
What do they long for, as I long for, —
Starting up in my inland bed,

Beating the narrow walls, and finding
Neither a window nor a door,
Screaming to God for death by drowning —
One salt taste of the sea once more?

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5 thoughts on “Poetry Wednesday – Edna St Vincent Millay

  1. There is a river where I live that runs through the city. This is a pretty good orientation point since the city is basically divided to East of the river and West of the river.

    That said, I still really loved this poem. Maybe you just have the right taste in poetry but you’re the only person that has gotten me to read poems and think about them. I’m checking out some of your recommendations from the library today!

  2. Nothing orients me. I am perpetually lost. I love the sea, though, and I long and long to live by the ocean. Every time I get back to an ocean place, I am blown away by how much I missed the ocean without noticing it every minute. Have you read that Robert Frost poem “Neither Out Far Nor In Deep”?

  3. I’m always oriented by the placement of the Beltway and Washington, D.C. Since it’s the epicenter of our region, everything is either “in the Beltway” or “outside the Beltway.” That’s how I plan my travels. That’s how I do pretty much everything.

    Love Edna St. Vincent Millay! Read her religiously in college. My favorite poem, of course, is one of the more popular ones . . . “What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why.” I memorized it my junior year and “performed” for the class. It was such a tender moment, surprisingly, and one I remember fondly!

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