Monday, April 12, 2010

magnolia, taxes and ms. st. vee

Every spring, when our old magnolia tree blooms, I am reminded of this photo of one of my favorite poets, my dear friend, as I like to call her, Edna St. Vincent Millay. It looks as if it could have been taken right here at the manor. I can't let National Poetry Month go by without posting just a bit of Ms. St. Vee. I adore her elegant sonnets. Even though they are a centuries old art form, hers are so masterfully written, they stand up well against today's modern poetry. Since it happens to be tax season, as well as the season of spring fever, I thought this particularly romantic piece so apropos.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

We talk of taxes, and I call you friend;
Well, such you are, --but well enough we know
How thick about us root, how rankly grow
Those subtle weeds no man has need to tend,
Though flourish through neglect, and soon must send
Perfume too sweet upon us and overthrow
Our steady senses; how such matters go
We are aware, and how such matters end.
Yet shall be told no meagre passion here,
With lovers such as we forevermore
Isolde drinks the draught, and Guinevere
Receives the Table's ruin through her door,
Francesca, with the loud surf at her ear,
Lets fall the coloured book upon the floor.

Magnolia in bloom at Willow Manor, April 12, 2010


  1. Lovely poem. I must confess that I have never come across Edna St. V before : but I have now, and I will definitely seek her out again.

  2. Really nice piece of poetry. I need to get some new books of poetry.

  3. Ms."St. Vee" is a favourite of mine too...and what a beautiful photo of her.

    I can practically smell the Magnolias in your garden! My neighbours have two of them a few blocks over and I am always lingering beneath them, inhaling the wonderul scent.

    Nice that you chose a poem with some Arthurian themes running through.... my post today has a bit of that as well.


    ♥ Robin ♥

  4. Your photo is really special. We have a gorgeous magnolia right around the corner from us (a real treat in Brooklyn) so the post is very much appreciated!

  5. Dear Willow, Magnolias are, to my mind, aristocrats of the spring border. It is, therefore, perhaps particularly fitting that you honour one of your favourite poets by showing this wonderful photograph of her together with such a very special tree.

  6. I am a big fan for Ms "St. Vee," and often teach her to my students. (My favorites are "Travel" and "Childhood is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies."

    I first saw this picture of her in my 9th grade English text, and I developed a huge crush on her. My students always find that funny.

  7. The manor blooms are beautiful as is this work of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Alas, here it is the 12th and I still haven't my taxes done. Was supposed to go today and I am calling to change my appt to tomorrow, I am so under the weather.

  8. Love the picture of the magnolia in bloom at Willow Manor! They are so lovely.

  9. Love the poem and picture of Edna St. V. M. and your photo is terrific!

  10. Beautiful choice of poem Willow accompanied by an evocative photo of Ms St Vee! You are very lucky to have such a wonderful magnolia at Willow Manor - sigh ...


  11. we just got our taxes back was glorious. this poet is a new one on me...i like it...

  12. Always something to learn when i visit you.
    love the photo.
    funny, that i read this wonderful sonnet and am reminded that i must call my accountant to find out the outcome of my tax return. . .
    I'll be back. . .in some form or another. :)

  13. I must confess to never having read her...but I like! Will be looking for her work in ye olde book shoppe, anon ;)

  14. Exquisite; both the images and the dreaming-scents I imagine when seeing them.

  15. Lovely...ours is blooming, too!

  16. Timely poem and very lovely picture of the wonderful lady. I too am an admirer of her wondrous writings.

  17. To my shame, I had never heard of Edna St. Vincent Millay before now. A truly wonderful discovery for me.

  18. Fantastic magnolia pic! Ms St V's poem lovely. Love your colour tweaking!

  19. I had not heard/read this one. Thanks for bringing it to us.

  20. Loved the picture of Edna St. V...she looks to be quite slender and petite. I've never seen a photo of her. This poem was a new one to me, as well. I think I need to read more of her work.

  21. Willow ,
    You know Edna's home was Rockland Maine..
    I bought that Jap. Magnolia last year . Can't wait till it blooms. When I was going to the Hospital in Houston. In Feb. to deliver
    my Daughter Renee. The street was covered in pink Japanese magnolia's.
    The most beautiful memory in my life.


  22. willow wouldn't you love to spend a day with edna?! i mean did she do any wrong and if she did, wouldn't you want to know about that and everything else?!!! lovely lovely post! steven

  23. My thanks to "" for the lines I needed to deal with this week's Magpie prompt.

  24. Steven, yes, Edna St. Vee is one of those I would love to have dinner with! I read Nancy Milford's "Savage Beauty", a Millay bio, which I guess is the next best thing, and was completely mesmerized.

  25. neat poem, and picture, and everything. those magnolia trees are the bomb!

  26. willow
    how perfect and yes, the photo looks like it could have been shot at the manor--ms. st. v would be pleased

  27. the magnolias are magnificent!!

    i'll be celebrating national poetry month tomorrow by going to a reading by favorite daughter mary oliver (who now lives in provincetown) - should have given you the head's up before now, afterall cleveland isn't that far from where you are!! one of these days, eh???

    yuck, taxes, my boy is at this moment hard at work filling out the paperwork!

  28. A perfect way to begin the week...steeped in this romantic poetry and all the while watching the magnolias bloom...have a great week!

  29. Willow; Lovely pics! Translucently transcendental by tm. When the short-lived astonishingly beautiful Magnolia's are in bloom tis the time to read Ms St Vee. What a modern approach to this poem; to begin with the word "tax". The references to the Muses is typical of the era
    s poems; but taxes? Maybe Ms St Vee meant taxing? I just do not see how taxation is at all a topic of interest for a poet, unless that poet is thoroughly modern and a lover of the abstract. Certainly Ms Vee was pushing the envelope (tax envelope that is)!

  30. Chicco, all three legends Millay mentions here deal with realtionships that began in friendship, blossomed into love only to end in tragedy. I think she's talking about her friend and tax man, who she's having an affair with, but knows what the end will be.

  31. Lovely, lovely. The magnolia and of course the poem. I think she single-handedly rescued the sonnet form. Thank you.

  32. I love that shot of your magnolia tree. The colors coming through the flowers are spectacular! It would make such a wonderful card...or fabric...just about anything!

  33. I love the poem, and I love big magnolias. Cro.

  34. I love Edna and I am entranced with this refined new look to your blog. I think it is perfect, suits you to a T.

  35. (Not sure if my comment posted for got's my 2nd try)

    "Francesca, with the loud surf at her ear,
    Lets fall the coloured book upon the floor."

    Got the chills reading this. Thanks for sharing it today. Very fitting!! (I went to the Post Office & the line was out the door! Bad day to randomly pick to mail a package to a friend.)

  36. I am also an Edna fan but I didn't know of this one, willow.

    Bye bye woolly socks.

  37. Thank you for this lovely reminder of Ms. St. Vee,
    both the image and the poem!

    I went immediately to my bookshelf, to locate one book I know I own, with just that picture on the cover. Not to be found! I shall have to spend my evening searching for it. Too many times have I had to mourn the loss of a book, somewhere in transit, victims of our move across the ocean.

  38. I found it! :-)
    "The Selected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay",
    ed. by Nancy Milford,
    The Modern Library, 2001

    A selection of poems, with a short introduction by St. Vee's biographer Milford. Beautiful dust cover and overall nicely done hardcover book.

  39. I've always loved Miss V, and sonnets, and magnolias. Oh, for an afternoon spent with those three!

  40. P.S.:
    Your header image is a work of art!
    Magnificent, really.

  41. This is the first time I've read that piece and it's beautiful. It matches your lovely new design on your Blog. You have been busy. xx

  42. Hello Willow,

    Always enjoy your postings of Edna's poetry. Thanks too for adding the bit of background in your reply to chicco.

  43. The photo is lovely, no wonder you remember it when your tree blooms.

  44. Yoli and Merisi, thank you! After tweaking around, I finally settled on something I was happy with. It's a fun process!


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