Monday Poem: “Women Have Loved Before as I Love Now” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Wow, long title and a long author name this week. I found this wonderful poet through a fanfiction piece, of all things, which featured some of her poetry. I wasn’t that enthused about the fic – I thought it was a bit out of character – but the poems were great, so I thought I would feature her as my Monday poet for a while, just to give myself an excuse to explore some of her fascinating verses.
Women Have Loved Before as I Love Now by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Women have loved before as I love now;
At least, in lively chronicles of the past—
Of Irish waters by a Cornish prow
Or Trojan waters by a Spartan mast
Much to their cost invaded—here and there,
Hunting the amorous line, skimming the rest,
I find some woman bearing as I bear
Love like a burning city in the breast.
I think however that of all alive
I only in such utter, ancient way
Do suffer love; in me alone survive
The unregenerate passions of a day
When treacherous queens, with death upon the tread,
Heedless and willful, took their knights to bed.
The lines that made me fall in love with this poem were, appropriately enough, “I find some woman bearing as I bear/love like a burning city in the breast.” The connection St. Vincent Millay makes between love and violence is intriguing, as is her idea that “in me alone survive” the passions of past “treacherous queens.” What do you think she’s trying to convey about her (or the narrator’s) current love affair? I can only imagine it must have been something illicit and tempestuous. What a lovely sonnet.