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03 August 2007

'Shall I be prisoner 'til my pulses stop'

So I've been reading a lot of Millay lately. There is a book of sonnets which tell the  story of a love affair, tragic from the start. It's called Fatal Interview. The way this woman could string together a thought is extraordinary. Here's something from #18:  "Shall I be prisoner 'til my pulses stop", or from #20: 'let your mind,/ Wearied with thinking, doze upon the thought."

Ordinary sentiment, ordinary words; put together in a way which captures and exalts the emotion. "Til my pulses stop"; easily understood. Some form of the meaning is common, cliche even. 'Be still my heart, 'racing pulses', hearts that 'skip a beat'; these and more are all part of our cardiovascular vernacular. But to put the words together in that way, so close to what is familiar, but not. It gives the phrasing a startling freshness which is met with immediate recognition.

Millay was an artistic genius an intellectual romantic; with emphasis on 'artist' and 'romantic. She never tried to impress with tricked out words. She communicated in plain language on topics of love, death nature artistic integrity.  And with such beauty and ingenuity. Amazing. There's no one like her. Let your mind wearied with thinking doze upon that thought.

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