I shall forget you presently, my dear,
So make the most of this, your little day,
Your little month, your little half a year
Ere I forget, or die, or move away,
And we are done forever; by and by
I shall forget you, as I said, but now,
If you entreat me with your loveliest lie
I will protest you with my favorite vow.
I would indeed that love were longer-lived,
And vows were not so brittle as they are,
But so it is, and nature has contrived
To struggle on without a break thus far,—
Whether or not we find what we are seeking
Is idle, biologically speaking.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on September 26, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
I came as a stranger; as a stranger now I leave. The flowers of May once welcomed me warmly; a young girl spoke of love, her mother even of marriage. Now all is bleak--the pathway covered with snow. The time of departure is not mine to choose; I must find my way alone in this darkness. With the shadow of the moon at my side, I search for traces of wildlife in the white snow. Why should I linger and give them reason to send me away? Let stray hounds howl outside their master's house. Love likes to wander from one to another, as if God willed it so. My darling, farewell. A quiet step, a careful shutting of the door so your sleep is not disturbed, and two words written on the gate as I leave, "Good night," to let you know I thought of you.
From Schubert's Winterreise: A Winter Journey in Poetry, Image, and Songs by Wilhelm Müller. Copyright © 2003. Reprinted by permission of the University of Wisconsin Press. All rights reserved.
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.
From Collected Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay, published by Harper & Brothers Publishers. Copyright © 1956 by Norma Millay Ellis.