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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
All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line 
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I'd started from; 
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three
poem
I, having loved ever since I was a child a few things, never having wavered
In these affections; never through shyness in the houses of the rich or in the presence of clergymen having denied these loves;
Never when worked upon
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For the sake of some things
   That be now no more
I will strew rushes
   On my chamber-floor,
I will plant bergamot
   At my kitchen-door.

For the sake of dim things
   That were once so plain
I will set a barrel
   Out to catch the rain,
I will hang an iron pot