I conclude this Poetry Month’s readings with a sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay. You can hear Micah’s Millay reading over on his blog. We’ll try to put together some sort of playlist from these too, and who knows, maybe we’ll add a bonus track or post as well.
There is something about reading a sonnet. It only takes about a minute, and in just a couple of practice reads, one gets the feel for how the lines should turn, whether there should be stress at the end or at the beginning of a line, any internal rhymes or pauses within them.
Of course, the form is usually set, though some poets enjoy playing with the rules. Here Millay keeps the conventions, the meter, and rhyme scheme of a Shakespearean sonnet, right down to the turn of thought at line nine (the Volta) and the concluding “twist,” or epigram of the final couplet.
As titles go, I like to think of this as called “As Summer goes.” Depending on the way you view the relationship described in this poem, you might also think of it as “As Summer Comes.” But it is Sonnet 4 from The Harp-Weaver And Other Poems. I have also seen this called Sonnet 27, perhaps from The Complete Sonnets. It was first published in the anthology American Poetry 1922.
I know I am but summer to your heart,
And not the full four seasons of the year;
And you must welcome from another part
Such noble moods as are not mine, my dear.
No gracious weight of golden fruits to sell
Have I, nor any wise and wintry thing;
And I have loved you all too long and well
To carry still the high sweet breast of Spring.
Wherefore I say: O love, as summer goes,
I must be gone, steal forth with silent drums,
That you may hail anew the bird and rose
When I come back to you, as summer comes.
Else will you seek, at some not distant time,
Even your summer in another clime.