She is neither pink nor pale,
And she never will be all mine;
She learned her hands in a fairy-tale,
And her mouth on a valentine. 

She has more hair than she needs;
In the sun ’tis a woe to me!
And her voice is a string of colored beads,
Or steps leading into the sea. 

She loves me all that she can,
And her ways to my ways resign;
But she was not made for any man,
And she never will be all mine. 

– Edna St. Vincent Millay


This poem is very evocative of a number of things; there is a hypnotic quality about the narrative that makes it seem like a fairy-tale, the frustration of a man with a woman’s otherness that is all too familiar. We also get this hint of the witch-wife having sacrificed for her love, but it somehow not being enough. Not because of what she does, but because of who she is, things that she cannot help. Is she a siren, a sea-witch, a mermaid? The sea, her hair, the otherness that hangs about her make you wonder.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, or Vincent as she liked to be called when she was growing up, was a woman ahead of her times in many ways. She was one of the best-known poets of her time, and lived life by her own rules. You can read a bio of her here.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *