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About this Poem 

“Alms” was first published in Second April (M. Kennerley, 1921).

Alms

My heart is what it was before,
   A house where people come and go;
But it is winter with your love,
   The sashes are beset with snow.

I light the lamp and lay the cloth,
   I blow the coals to blaze again;
But it is winter with your love,
   The frost is thick upon the pane.

I know a winter when it comes:
   The leaves are listless on the boughs;
I watched your love a little while,
   And brought my plants into the house.

I water them and turn them south,
   I snap the dead brown from the stem;
But it is winter with your love,—
   I only tend and water them.

There was a time I stood and watched
   The small, ill-natured sparrows’ fray;
I loved the beggar that I fed,
   I cared for what he had to say,

I stood and watched him out of sight;
   Today I reach around the door
And set a bowl upon the step;
   My heart is what it was before,

But it is winter with your love;
   I scatter crumbs upon the sill,
And close the window,—and the birds
   May take or leave them, as they will.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 4, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 4, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay was born in Rockland, Maine.

by this poet

poem

White with daisies and red with sorrel
   And empty, empty under the sky!—
Life is a quest and love a quarrel—
   Here is a place for me to lie.

Daisies spring from damnèd seeds,
   And this red fire that here I see
Is a worthless crop of crimson weeds,
   Cursed by farmers

poem

Once from a big, big building,
When I was small, small,
The queer folk in the windows
Would smile at me and call.
       And in the hard wee gardens
Such pleasant men would hoe:
“Sir, may we touch the little girl’s hair!”—
It was so red, you know.
       They cut me coloured

poem
I will be the gladdest thing  
    Under the sun!  
I will touch a hundred flowers  
    And not pick one.  
  
I will look at cliffs and clouds
    With quiet eyes,  
Watch the wind bow down the grass,  
    And the grass rise.  
  
And when lights begin to show  
    Up from the town,
I will mark which must be