Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bleak and remembered, patched with red . . .

What a wonderful way Millay uses the extended metaphor of an autumn daybreak to communicate the "dawning on" the writer of death consciousness, as autumn replaces the green summertime prime of life. The hill is, of course, a cemetery, and the patches of red are the flags placed on the graves of fallen soldiers on Memorial Day.

Autumn Daybreak
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Cold wind of autumn, blowing loud
At dawn, a fortnight overdue,
Jostling the doors, and tearing through
My bedroom to rejoin the cloud,

I know — for I can hear the hiss
And scrape of leaves along the floor —
How many boughs, lashed bare by this,
Will rake the cluttered sky once more.

Tardy, and somewhat south of east,
The sun will rise at length, made known
More by the meagre light increased
Than by a disk in splendour shown;

When, having but to turn my head,
Through the stripped maple I shall see,
Bleak and remembered, patched with red,
The hill all summer hid from me.


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