Featuring cherita!

October 25, 2013

Poetry Friday--A Few Figs from Thistles

Last week I posted a little political poem about a fig. In the comments section Mary Lee mentioned Edna St. Vincent Millay's figs--her P. F. post was about Millay's collection titled A Few Figs from Thistles. The most famous poem from that collection is undoubtedly this one, which made for some lively discussion amongst Mary Lee's commentors:
First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;
   It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends--
   It gives a lovely light!

Being as I'm currently obsessed with political shananigans, I think this ditty is a perfect description of the freshman senator who has recently made a name for himself!

After reading Mary Lee's post, I sought out Millay's collection and I was struck by this poem:

Portrait by a Neighbor

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
Look closely at the title, it's Portrait BY a Neighbor, not OF a Neighbor. So, are we to assume that Millay is the neighbor being written about? If so, then I think Millay is rather proud of being painted as a free spirit. I don't know about you, but this poem fills me with happiness!

Irene is hosting this week's P. F. Round-Up at Live Your Poem. Without a doubt she will have plenty there to add to my happy mood.

Photo by BlueRidgeKitties.


  1. It's a self-portrait without calling itself a self-portrait! Thank you so much for sharing. Wheels are turning now about how I can write a sneaky self-portrait like this. :)

    1. Sneaky it is! Make sure to share your self-portrait.

  2. luv the Queen Anne's lace ending;have a nice weekend

    much luv

    1. I do, too! Does Queen Anne's lace grow as a weed in T & T? It grows like crazy up here in New Hampshire.

  3. I haven't seen this collection, and every time I see a poem from it I'm reminded that I must read it!

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Project Gutenberg is great! A Few Figs... can be read online or downloaded to your ereader--for free!

  4. The question regarding the title is something I picked up on immediately...it certainly sounds like this is a self-portrait, doesn't it?

    1. Titles, many times, reveal a lot!

      I love that the words in a title don't count in Laura Salas' 15 words or less challenges--I use it to great advantage most weeks!

  5. Oh! HA!! I DID miss the BY in the title!! Thanks for pointing that out.

    The more I read and hear about Ms. Millay, the more I feel like a kindred spirit. I'm listening to Bill Bryson's newest book about 1927, and her liberalism shows up there. What a lady!

    Have you read/heard of a biography that you'd recommend?

    1. I know that as a librarian I probably shouldn't say this, but I always run to the "Further Reading" section of Wikipedia. The entry for Millay lists Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay, which I know many libraries own. You might want to start there.