Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Another Poem for National Poetry Month: Vincent Millay's "Intention to Escape from Him"

Another poem for National Poetry Month, one that always astonishes me when I read it again.  This is from Edna St. Vincent Millay--"Vincent," to her friends--the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize.

This lyric poem speaks to me of the fierce struggle that women have had to undergo throughout history to claim autonomy and to fulfill their own personal destinies.  And it speaks to me, of course, about the similar struggle that any of those defined as despised others must undergo to achieve autonomy and fulfill their personal potential.

"Intention to Escape from Him"

I think I will learn some beautiful language, useless for commercial
Purposes, work hard at that.
I think I will learn the Latin name of every songbird, not only in
America but wherever they sing.
(Shun meditation, though; invite the controversial:
Is the world flat? Do bats eat cats?) By digging hard I might
deflect that river, my mind, that uncontrollable thing,
Turgid and yellow, strong to overflow its banks in spring,
carrying away bridges
A bed of pebbles now, through which there trickles one clear
narrow stream, following a course henceforth nefast—

Dig, dig; and if I come to ledges, blast.