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Winter Night
Edna St. Vincent Millay


Pile high the hickory and the light
Log of chestnut struck by the blight.
Welcome in the winter night.

The day has gone in hewing and felling,
Sawing and drawing wood to the dwelling
For the night of talk and story-telling.

These are the hours that give the edge
To the blunted axe and the bent wedge,
Straighten the saw and lighten the sledge.

Here are question and reply,
And the fire reflected in the thinking eye.
So peace, and let the bob-cat cry.

This poem is in the public domain.


Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 - 1950) was a poet and playwright and the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize. She began publishing poems while still in high school and earned a full scholarship to Vassar based largely on a single poem, called "Renascence." Part of a prominent group of artists and writers who lived in Greenwich Village, Millay was as famous for her bohemian lifestyle as for her writing. She spent the last half of her life entertaining fellow artists with her husband at Steepletop, their pastoral New York estate, which is now a National Historic Landmark.


Post New Comment:
Wilda Morris:
"And the fire reflected in the thinking eye." Well-said.
Posted 12/29/2022 08:50 AM
This poem really resonates with me because, a few days ago, I had to say goodbye to an old "friend"~~a huge old oak tree. It was dying and becoming dangerous!The tree cutters left no trace, at my bidding.
Posted 12/28/2022 10:11 AM
The fires of the heart must be fed, as surely as the fires in the stove!
Posted 12/27/2022 02:03 PM
Even the rhymed triplets are cozy.
Posted 12/27/2022 11:17 AM
Can we call her ESVM or is that diminishing her? I too am a fan. And I love Jaynes openness to form as well as free verse. The last generation had to overcome form, but, being overturned as the only way, we can accept it as a way.
Posted 12/27/2022 10:49 AM
I love Edna St Vincent Millay's work...all of it!! The biography I read about her was an interesting and wonderful read. Great poem, Jayne!
Posted 12/27/2022 10:39 AM
Gilbert Allen:
The sound of this poem is exquisite and thought-provoking--especially that second stanza.
Posted 12/27/2022 10:10 AM
Much splitting takes a sledge and a wedge.
Posted 12/27/2022 09:47 AM
Oh! How lovely the rhymes (interlinear & end line . . . and the total life-experience this poem offers.
Posted 12/27/2022 08:59 AM
Darrell Arnold:
I love this. Being a woodcutter much of my life, and having relished (still relishing) the instant comfort and heat from a crackling fireplace, I know about the things her clever rhymes are telling. That is except for the pleasures of burning hickory and chestnut (ours is pine and cedar) and hearing the bobcat's cry. That would be swell.
Posted 12/27/2022 08:23 AM
Larry Schug:
As a person who's heated his house exclusively with wood for over forty years, I love everything about this poem--its metaphysics as well as the story it tells. Thanks Jane and Edna, wherever you may be.
Posted 12/27/2022 08:13 AM

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