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Thread: What is this poem?

  1. #1
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    May 2007

    Smile What is this poem?

    Hi all,
    Can anyone help me with the title of this poem. . . .I think it is by Edna St. Vincent Milay, but haven't been able to find it. It has something to do with a mountain top in Acacia Nat'l Forest/Park in Maine.
    What I remember is:
    ". . . .from where I stood, I saw three mountains and a wood,
    when I turned and looked the other way,
    I saw three islands in a bay."
    Does this ring a bell with anyone?
    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Feb 2004
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    That is part of Edna St. Vincent Millay's beautiful poem


    All I could see from where I stood
    Was three long mountains and a wood;
    I turned and looked another way,
    And saw three islands in a bay.

    So with my eyes I traced the line
    Of the horizon, thin and fine,
    Straight around till I was come
    Back to where I'd started from;
    And all I saw from where I stood
    Was three long mountains and a wood.
    Over these things I could not see;
    These were the things that bounded me;
    And I could touch them with my hand,
    Almost, I thought, from where I stand.
    And all at once things seemed so small
    My breath came short, and scarce at all.
    But, sure, the sky is big, I said;
    Miles and miles above my head;
    So here upon my back I'll lie
    And look my fill into the sky.
    And so I looked, and, after all,
    The sky was not so very tall.
    The sky, I said, must somewhere stop,
    And -- sure enough! -- I see the top!
    The sky, I thought, is not so grand;
    I 'most could touch it with my hand!
    And reaching up my hand to try,
    I screamed to feel it touch the sky.
    I screamed, and -- lo! -- Infinity
    Came down and settled over me;
    Forced back my scream into my chest,
    Bent back my arm upon my breast,
    And, pressing of the Undefined
    The definition on my mind,
    Held up before my eyes a glass
    Through which my shrinking sight did pass
    Until it seemed I must behold
    Immensity made manifold;
    Whispered to me a word whose sound
    Deafened the air for worlds around,
    And brought unmuffled to my ears
    The gossiping of friendly spheres,
    The creaking of the tented sky,
    The ticking of Eternity.
    I saw and heard, and knew at last
    The How and Why of all things, past,
    And present, and forevermore.
    The Universe, cleft to the core,
    Lay open to my probing sense
    That, sick'ning, I would fain pluck thence
    But could not, -- nay! But needs must suck
    At the great wound, and could not pluck
    My lips away till I had drawn
    All venom out. -- Ah, fearful pawn!
    For my omniscience paid I toll
    In infinite remorse of soul.
    All sin was of my sinning, all
    Atoning mine, and mine the gall
    Of all regret. Mine was the weight
    Of every brooded wrong, the hate
    That stood behind each envious thrust,
    Mine every greed, mine every lust.
    And all the while for every grief,
    Each suffering, I craved relief
    With individual desire, --
    Craved all in vain! And felt fierce fire
    About a thousand people crawl;
    Perished with each, -- then mourned for all!
    A man was starving in Capri;
    He moved his eyes and looked at me;
    I felt his gaze, I heard his moan,
    And knew his hunger as my own.
    I saw at sea a great fog bank
    Between two ships that struck and sank;
    A thousand screams the heavens smote;
    And every scream tore through my throat.
    No hurt I did not feel, no death
    That was not mine; mine each last breath
    That, crying, met an answering cry
    From the compassion that was I.
    All suffering mine, and mine its rod;
    Mine, pity like the pity of God.
    Ah, awful weight! Infinity
    Pressed down upon the finite Me!
    My anguished spirit, like a bird,
    Beating against my lips I heard;
    Yet lay the weight so close about
    There was no room for it without.
    And so beneath the weight lay I
    And suffered death, but could not die.

    Long had I lain thus, craving death,
    When quietly the earth beneath
    Gave way, and inch by inch, so great
    At last had grown the crushing weight,
    Into the earth I sank till I
    Full six feet under ground did lie,
    And sank no more, -- there is no weight
    Can follow here, however great.
    From off my breast I felt it roll,
    And as it went my tortured soul
    Burst forth and fled in such a gust
    That all about me swirled the dust.

    Deep in the earth I rested now;
    Cool is its hand upon the brow
    And soft its breast beneath the head
    Of one who is so gladly dead.
    And all at once, and over all
    The pitying rain began to fall;
    I lay and heard each pattering hoof
    Upon my lowly, thatched roof,
    And seemed to love the sound far more
    Than ever I had done before.
    For rain it hath a friendly sound
    To one who's six feet underground;
    And scarce the friendly voice or face:
    A grave is such a quiet place.

    The rain, I said, is kind to come
    And speak to me in my new home.
    I would I were alive again
    To kiss the fingers of the rain,
    To drink into my eyes the shine
    Of every slanting silver line,
    To catch the freshened, fragrant breeze
    From drenched and dripping apple-trees.
    For soon the shower will be done,
    And then the broad face of the sun
    Will laugh above the rain-soaked earth
    Until the world with answering mirth
    Shakes joyously, and each round drop
    Rolls, twinkling, from its grass-blade top.
    How can I bear it; buried here,
    While overhead the sky grows clear
    And blue again after the storm?
    O, multi-colored, multiform,
    Beloved beauty over me,
    That I shall never, never see
    Again! Spring-silver, autumn-gold,
    That I shall never more behold!
    Sleeping your myriad magics through,
    Close-sepulchred away from you!
    O God, I cried, give me new birth,
    And put me back upon the earth!
    Upset each cloud's gigantic gourd
    And let the heavy rain, down-poured
    In one big torrent, set me free,
    Washing my grave away from me!

    I ceased; and through the breathless hush
    That answered me, the far-off rush
    Of herald wings came whispering
    Like music down the vibrant string
    Of my ascending prayer, and -- crash!
    Before the wild wind's whistling lash
    The startled storm-clouds reared on high
    And plunged in terror down the sky,
    And the big rain in one black wave
    Fell from the sky and struck my grave.
    I know not how such things can be;
    I only know there came to me
    A fragrance such as never clings
    To aught save happy living things;
    A sound as of some joyous elf
    Singing sweet songs to please himself,
    And, through and over everything,
    A sense of glad awakening.
    The grass, a-tiptoe at my ear,
    Whispering to me I could hear;
    I felt the rain's cool finger-tips
    Brushed tenderly across my lips,
    Laid gently on my sealed sight,
    And all at once the heavy night
    Fell from my eyes and I could see, --
    A drenched and dripping apple-tree,
    A last long line of silver rain,
    A sky grown clear and blue again.
    And as I looked a quickening gust
    Of wind blew up to me and thrust
    Into my face a miracle
    Of orchard-breath, and with the smell, --
    I know not how such things can be! --
    I breathed my soul back into me.
    Ah! Up then from the ground sprang I
    And hailed the earth with such a cry
    As is not heard save from a man
    Who has been dead, and lives again.
    About the trees my arms I wound;
    Like one gone mad I hugged the ground;
    I raised my quivering arms on high;
    I laughed and laughed into the sky,
    Till at my throat a strangling sob
    Caught fiercely, and a great heart-throb
    Sent instant tears into my eyes;
    O God, I cried, no dark disguise
    Can e'er hereafter hide from me
    Thy radiant identity!
    Thou canst not move across the grass
    But my quick eyes will see Thee pass,
    Nor speak, however silently,
    But my hushed voice will answer Thee.
    I know the path that tells Thy way
    Through the cool eve of every day;
    God, I can push the grass apart
    And lay my finger on Thy heart!

    The world stands out on either side
    No wider than the heart is wide;
    Above the world is stretched the sky, --
    No higher than the soul is high.
    The heart can push the sea and land
    Farther away on either hand;
    The soul can split the sky in two,
    And let the face of God shine through.
    But East and West will pinch the heart
    That can not keep them pushed apart;
    And he whose soul is flat -- the sky
    Will cave in on him by and by.

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  3. #3
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    May 2007
    Thank you so much. It is indeed a lovely poem.

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