Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Alms

My heart is what it was before,
      A house where people come and go;
But it is winter with your love,
      The sashes are beset with snow.

I light the lamp and lay the cloth,
      I blow the coals to blaze again;
But it is winter with your love,
      The frost is thick upon the pane.

I know a winter when it comes:
      The leaves are listless on the boughs;
I watched your love a little while,
      And brought my plants into the house.

I water them and turn them south,
      I snap the dead brown from the stem;
But it is winter with your love,—
      I only tend and water them.

There was a time I stood and watched
      The small, ill-natured sparrows’ fray;
I loved the beggar that I fed,
      I cared for what he had to say,

I stood and watched him out of sight;
      Today I reach around the door
And set a bowl upon the step;
      My heart is what it was before,

But it is winter with your love;
      I scatter crumbs upon the sill,
And close the window,—and the birds
      May take or leave them, as they will.

Credit


This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 4, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“Alms” was first published in Second April (M. Kennerley, 1921).

Author


Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay was born in Rockland, Maine, on February 22, 1892. A poet and playwright poetry collections include The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver (Flying Cloud Press, 1922), winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and Renascence and Other Poems (Harper, 1917) She died on October 18, 1950, in Austerlitz, New York.

Date Published: 1921-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/alms