Paquita Maria Sanchez's Reviews > First Fig and Other Poems

First Fig and Other Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay
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's review
Feb 27, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: plays-n-poems

I've been on a bit of a long-awaited poetry kick lately, but this one was just not satisfying enough in the end to leave me wanting more. The whole experience felt a bit detached, failing to arouse more than just a teensy amount of feeling in me. Should I give her another chance to stimulate me? Will it always be just so-so, or can it get pretty deep from time to time? Our first time together just left me feeling so blasé.

The quote below made me giggle, because I have an often infantile sense of humor (not that you noticed or anything), and am always subconsciously on the lookout for sexual innuendo in poetry about love, whether or not it was intentionally-placed. After all, love and lust are so easily confused...

I, that have bared me to your quiver's fire,
Lifted my face into its puny rain,
Do wreathe you Impotent to Evoke Desire
As you are Powerless to Elicit Pain!
(Now will the god, for blasphemy so brave,
Punish me, surely, with the shaft I crave!)

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Comments (showing 1-24 of 24) (24 new)

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Paquita Maria Sanchez I apologize for this non-review, but I really have nothing more to say on the matter, and am delighted to be moving on. I just couldn't let that quote slip by unnoticed.

message 2: by Mariel (new)

Mariel Twss!

message 3: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich Hmmm, first, congrats on the poetry kick. I love being in poetry kicks and I'm excited to hear what you think of some poets. Second, a bit bummed you didn't like this as I was wondering if she was a good one to read and had high expectations. I've only read one or two or her poems for a class I had a few years back and enjoyed those, I'll find the titles later, but I think they had that detached feeling anyways and it was the deconstruction of it that I enjoyed. But that quote was wonderful nonetheless!

Paquita Maria Sanchez It has been mostly going well, with this collection being the first real disappointment. I think I just like 'em a bit more crass, self-destructive, and bitter. You know, more like I feel on a particularly bad day.

message 5: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich Totally understandable. I take it you've been through the Bukowski then?

Paquita Maria Sanchez Yeah, I tore through a bunch of his books in high school. Funny guy, but lacking the wordplay I require these days.

message 7: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich True, true. He was always good for a laugh though. A dark, bitter one.

message 8: by Paquita Maria (last edited Feb 27, 2012 04:34PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paquita Maria Sanchez Absolutely. He was admittedly less the sort to take his time, and more of a perpetual word vomiter. Regardless, it seems like there's this tendency to publish every little scrap of paper that he typed or wrote on, the same sheets he would have immediately afterward used to blow his nose or wipe his ass with. When he's on, though...awesome.

message 9: by Miriam (last edited Feb 28, 2012 12:10PM) (new)

Miriam Given that it's Millay I think you can rest assured that innuendos (do those even qualify) is deliberate.

Sorry you didn't like the collection. I really love some of her poems, but I tend to go off a poet if I try reading a whole collection of their works at once.

Do you like Cafavy? Or do you want a heavier, earthier sort of dirty-and-bitterness? XJ Kennedy?

Paquita Maria Sanchez Their works are all Greek to me, but I am currently taking all manner of recommendations! As for this one, the whole set just seemed so "you broke my heart, boo hoo, I can't let go of the fact that you broke my heart, boo hoo, I can describe the shades over the windows in a rhymey way, boo hoo." Maybe this is just a bad collection...I'll give her another shot some day. Which would you suggest?

Paquita Maria Sanchez I should have mentioned this in my review, but then it would have ceased to be completely childish: I f*cking loved, loved, loved the poem "The Singing-Woman from the Wood's Edge." Definitely the standout.

message 12: by Miriam (last edited Feb 28, 2012 12:44PM) (new)

Miriam I like her when she's pithy, like in "Grown-up":

Was it for this I uttered prayers,
And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs,
That now, domestic as a plate,
I should retire at half-past eight?

message 13: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Here's one by Kennedy I like:

At the Last Rites for Two Hotrodders

Sheeted in steel, embedded face to face,
They idle now in meaningless embrace,
The only ones at last who had the nerve
To meet head-on, not chicken out and swerve.

Inseparable, in one closed car they roll
Down the stoned aisle and on out to a hole,
Wheeled by the losers: six of fledgling beard,
Black-jacketed and glum, who also steered
Toward absolute success with total pride,
But, inches from it, felt, and turned aside.

There are a couple more in my review.

Paquita Maria Sanchez I can work with pithy too, but I guess I'm a bigger fan of the verbose and ornate a la Baudelaire, Wilmot, Wilde, etc. I just finished The Ballad of Reading Gaol and was completely blown away by it to the extent that I was even able to let all the Jesus shit slide (one of the main themes being spiritual redemption through Christ...I'm turning my eyes away and plugging up my ears because that poem is goddamned gorgeous all the same).

message 15: by Miriam (new)

Miriam While you're in Jesus-ignoring mode, try "The Hound of Heaven."

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

Paquita Maria Sanchez Elizabeth wrote: "Please give her another chance."

For you, definitely! Anyway, I have a 2 chances policy with authors for the most part. Seems only fair.

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Awww. I love the shit out of Millay. I can't say from this volume, because I've only read her in big omnibus things, but she can be so amazing, playing with formalism with a brass Modernist edge. I made my dad and father in law read her at my wedding, which was awesome. I will try to find the poem.

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Okay, what I love about this poem, other than the kinda anti romantic sentiment and understatement, is how it works so beautifully with the Shakespeare sonnet that tend to be read at weddings. After the first turn, you could almost move into Oh no, it is an ever fixed mark! But you don't. Fucking brilliant. The intertext kills me. Love it forever.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

message 20: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Elizabeth and Ceridwen, you both picked favorite poems of mine! ("I, born a woman and distressed" and especially "Love is Not All").

message 21: by [deleted user] (new)


Paquita Maria Sanchez This thread is giving me NOtifications. Speaking of glitches, they should probably just go ahead and rename this site

message 23: by Miriam (last edited Feb 29, 2012 08:02AM) (new)

Miriam Yeah, that's a good one, too! It's Sonnet VI of the linked-sonnet poem that starts, "We talk of taxes, and I call you friend," from Second April.

No rose that in a garden ever grew,
In Homer's or in Omar's or in mine,
Though buried under centuries of fine
Dead dust of roses, shut from sun and dew
Forever, and forever lost from view,
But must again in fragrance rich as wine
The grey aisles of the air incarnadine
When the old summers surge into a new.
Thus when I swear, "I love with all my heart,"
'Tis with the heart of Lilith that I swear,
'Tis with the love of Lesbia and Lucrece;
And thus as well my love must lose some part
Of what it is, had Helen been less fair,
Or perished young, or stayed at home in Greece.

Paquita Maria Sanchez Awww...this is why I love gr.

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