Inert Perfection

Edna St. Vincent Millay

 
“Inert Perfection, let me chip your shell.
You cannot break it through with that soft beak.
What if you broke it never, and it befell
You should not issue thence, should never speak?”
Perfection in the egg, a fluid thing,
Grows solid in due course, and there exists;
Knowing no urge to struggle forth and sing;
Complete, though shell-bound. But the mind insists
It shall be hatched ... to this ulterior end:
That it be bound by Function, that it be
Less than Perfection, having to expend
Some force on a nostalgia to be free.
 
Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Inert Perfection" from Collected Poems. Copyright 1931, 1934, 1939, © 1958 by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Norma Millay Ellis. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Holly Peppe, Literary Executor, The Millay Society. www.millay.org.

Poems by This Author

Afternoon on a Hill by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I will be the gladdest thing
Ashes of Life by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Love has gone and left me and the days are all alike
Assault by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I had forgotten how the frogs must sound
Childhood is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age
Ebb by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I know what my heart is like
First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay
My candle burns at both ends
God's World by Edna St. Vincent Millay
O world, I cannot hold thee close enough
Hearing your words and not a word among them (Sonnet XXXVI) by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Hearing your words, and not a word among them
Humoresque by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I know I am but summer to your heart (Sonnet XXVII) by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I know I am but summer to your heart
I shall forget you presently, my dear (Sonnet XI) by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I shall forget you presently, my dear
I think I should have loved you presently (Sonnet IX) by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I think I should have loved you presently
I, Being born a Woman and Distressed (Sonnet XLI) by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I, being born a woman and distressed
Inland by Edna St. Vincent Millay
People that build their houses inland,
Intention to Escape from Him by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I think I will learn some beautiful language, useless for commercial
Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX) by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Modern Declaration by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I, having loved ever since I was a child a few things, never having wavered
Passer Mortuus Est by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Death devours all lovely things
Recuerdo by Edna St. Vincent Millay
We were very tired, we were very merry
Renascence by Edna St. Vincent Millay
All I could see from where I stood
Second Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
She Is Overheard Singing by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Oh, Prue she has a patient man
Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay
To what purpose, April, do you return again
The Plaid Dress by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Strong sun, that bleach
The Suicide by Edna St. Vincent Millay
"Curse thee, Life, I will live with thee no more!
Thursday by Edna St. Vincent Millay
And if I loved you Wednesday
Time does not bring relief (Sonnet II) by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
To a Young Poet by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Time cannot break the bird's wing from the bird
Travel by Edna St. Vincent Millay
The railroad track is miles away
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII) by Edna St. Vincent Millay
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
Wild Swans by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over
Witch-Wife by Edna St. Vincent Millay
She is neither pink nor pale,


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