Note: Posting this poem on June 29 gets the month wrong, but yesterday’s announcement that Austin metro had the highest rate of positive tests in the nation this week makes the poem’s mood feel timely nonetheless, and in a disturbing way. Though used in a different context, Millay’s phrase “opening stickily” has a sickly resonance, for me, with Texas’s “re-opening” process over the past several weeks. ~ PB
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Spring.” In public domain. Poetryfoundation.org.