A Millay favorite

Back in the late 80s I found at a Friends of the Library sale a thin little volume — autographed! — of poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Sadly, it is one of the treasures I parted with before the divorce, when his drinking was out of control, when money was tight and treasures were imagined expendable. Online today I found one of my favorite poems, which meant a great deal to me in those days when I was recovering from my first divorce — and means even more today (I particularly like the imagery of Friendship better than bread):

To A Friend Estranged From Me

Now goes under, and I watch go under, the sun
That will not rise again.
Today has seen the setting, in your eyes, cold and senseless as the sea,
Of friendship better than bread, and of bright charity
That lifts man a little above the beasts that run.
That this could be!
That I should live to see
Most vulgar Pride, that stale obstreperous clown,
So fitted out with purple robe and crown
To stand among his betters! Face to face
With outraged me in this once holy place,
Where Wisdom was a favoured guest and hunted
Truth was harbored out of danger,
He bulks enthroned, a lewd, an insupportable stranger!

I would have sworn, indeed I swore it:
The hills may shift, the waters may decline,
Winter may twist the stem from the twig that bore it,
But never your love from me, your hand from mine.

Now goes under the sun, and I watch it go under,
Farewell, sweet light, great wonder!
You, too, farewell, — but fare not well enough to dream
You have done wisely to invite the night before the darkness came.

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