Dirge Without Music

Thanks to the graciousness and generosity of the Millay Society’s literary executor, I am honored to share a poem I have returned to again and again for its courage and honesty.

This month marked eight years since Kissie’s death and twenty four since Dad’s, and the mournfulness that suffuses this month of their anniversaries, calls out to me for lamentation. It asks me for a rite, perhaps simple, but lovingly and staunchly given — for no amount of time erases the wonder that they were and the privilege of grieving them.

Dirge Without Music | 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.

“Dirge Without Music” (1928) by Edna St. Vincent Millay reprinted courtesy of Holly Peppe, Literary Executor, the Millay Society (www.millay.org).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s