Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Visit to the Asylum with Edna St. Vincent Millay

photo © Mark Butkus 2007
The oldest public hospital in America, Bellevue has housed its' fair share of poets.

Once from a big, big building,
When I was small, small,
The queer folk in the windows
Would smile at me and call.
And in the hard wee gardens
Such pleasant men would hoe:
“Sir, may we touch the little girl’s hair!” —
It was so red, you know.
They cut me colored asters
With shears so sharp and neat,
They brought me grapes and plums and pears
And pretty cakes to eat.
And out of all the windows,
No matter where we went,
The merriest eyes would follow me
And make me compliment.
There were a thousand windows,
All latticed up and down.
And up to all the windows,
When we went back to town,
The queer folk put their faces,
As gentle as could be;
“Come again, little girl!” they called, and I
Called back, “You come see me!”

— Edna St. Vincent Millay

Robert L. Gale wrote that Edna St. Vincent Millay, "is the poetic voice of eternal youth, feminine revolt and liberation, and potent sensitivity and suggestiveness. Her best and most representative themes are bittersweet love, sorrow, the inevitability of change, resignation, death, and ever-abiding nature."

A Visit to the Asylum is from Edna St. Vincent Millay's 1922 volume of poetry, The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923.