Sunday Poem: My Kind of Woman
Portrait by a Neighbor
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Before she has her floor swept
Or her dishes done,
Any day you’ll find her
A-sunning in the sun!
It’s long after midnight
Her key’s in the lock,
And you never see her chimney smoke
Till past ten o’clock!
She digs in her garden
With a shovel and a spoon,
She weeds her lazy lettuce
By the light of the moon.
She walks up the walk
Like a woman in a dream,
She forgets she borrowed butter
And pays you back cream!
Her lawn looks like a meadow,
And if she mows the place
She leaves the clover standing
And the Queen Anne’s lace!
—from A Few Figs from Thistles, published in 1920.
I notice it isn’t called “Portrait of a Neighbor”—it’s by. I think Edna must have been talking about herself. My neighbors would sympathize with hers…our lawn looks all too meadow-like at times, and the only reason I don’t weed my lettuce by the light of the moon is that I never got around to planting it in the first place. My peas are decidedly lazy this year, though. As for the clover and the Queen Anne’s lace, I’m with Edna! Much prettier than grass. Even when we do stay on top of the mowing (like this year, because my wonderful parents gave us a mowing service as a baby gift when Rilla was born), we leave a big patch of the side yard uncut to let the chicory and thistle bloom. I don’t know what the neighbors think, but the goldfinches love it.
That’s one of my favorites, though I wasn’t able to enjoy it properly until I moved to the farm. My then new husband, however, didn’t find as much charm in it when I read it aloud to him one day (though he’s been more than happy to stop mowing the grass for the meadowlarks to nest…)
On June 4, 2006 at 9:16 am
Jennifer G. Miller says:
Oh, I just love Edna St. Vincent Millay! Thanks for sharing this!
On June 4, 2006 at 11:22 am
I just memorized this poem–that’s how much I like it. Why do poets get to experience life so much more authentically then the rest of us?
On June 5, 2006 at 6:28 am
Of Fly Catchers and hidden lakes.
Of sleeping lizards and morning dew.
It is of birdsong and misty dawns
and fleeced clouds floating in a still pool.
The waters ripple awake in the gathering morn.
The first water birds head out for the far shore.
On June 16, 2007 at 12:08 pm