We were very tired, we were very merry

We were very hot.

Last summer, Gary and I made a trip to Connecticut and New York to visit Shannon and her in-laws and to see the sights.  I was determined to check out all the places that I'd missed the last time I was there (40 years ago) and to see a few other places I'd become interested in since then.  But it turned out we went during a heat wave, and both days we were in New York City it was nearly 100º.  I didn't let that stop me.

Back when I was in college, there was this PBS program I occasionally watched called Anyone for Tennyson?  The program featured different actors performing the weekly poet's selected work.  I particularly remember the episode focusing on Edna St Vincent Millay.  I hadn't read anything of hers before, but I was hooked by the poems recited in that episode.  I can still remember how powerfully I was struck by the performance of "There at Dusk I Found You".  I don't remember who did it, but I was in awe.  I also really liked "Recuerdo", not just because of what it says, but because it reminds me of times when I've been with friends, not doing anything special -- and, simply because of who I was with and how I felt at the time, it became a favorite memory.

Soon after watching that show, I went to the library on campus and found the collected works of Edna St Vincent Millay.  She's been a favorite poet of mine ever since.  So, naturally, I had to take a ride on the Staten Island ferry. I was happy to see that, at the ferry terminal, there is a phrase from "Recuerdo" painted in large letters on one of the walls.

I was very merry

by Edna St Vincent Millay

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable—
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

I've never read the whole poem before. I liked it a lot, and I can see why you think of it the way you do. It makes me feel that way too. It gave me chills. Or maybe that's because it's cold in here...