Recuerdo, by Edna St. Vincent Millay


Edna St. Vincent Millay

I’ve recently been made aware, via the excellent Audio Bookshelf blog, of the LibriVox project, which is a volunteer effort to make audio recordings of literature in the public domain available for free download. The project began less than two years ago, and they already have hundreds of audio files available, including one of my favorite poems, Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Recuerdo, read here by David Gunn.

Clearly, I’m not the only person who likes this poem. There are nine different audio recordings of the poem in the LibriVox catalog.

And here is the text of the poem.


We were very tired, we were very merry–
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable–
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry–
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

More poetry


~ by lolarusa on December 29, 2006.

9 Responses to “Recuerdo, by Edna St. Vincent Millay”

  1. And it never once says “we were in love” nor needs to.

  2. i think this poem is about a brother or sister or some family members who are helping out thre mom because she isnt as young as she used to be! they also give her money which is thre moms money except for the sub way fares which means they might go and run some more errans

  3. I’ve always thought it was just a memory of a perfect time. It’s a carpe diem type of poem — the narrator and companion (no relationship is given; neither are their genders) are young and free, and they have time to do as they please, and a little bit of money that they are free to share.

    I could rewrite this poem about different times in my own life, as could anyone else. This, to me, is what makes it so easy to relate to. I could write about taking off for a random roadtrip with friends to NYC, and wandering around all night in the Village, and sharing the bathroom in the lobby of St. Vincent’s with transvestite hookers on cell phones, and giving our leftover Chinese food to homeless people. And to me, it would evoke the same feeling.

  4. I have always understood this poem as you describe it, Christina. It’s about friends and freedom.

  5. I think this poem is about a young couple who are in love. They are so carefree and they realize that no amount of money could ever amount to love. The old lady is looked at as a working, old immigrant lady. This may be said because of the shawl on her head. Also it may be look as the old lady is coming to work. This poem may be dissected in many ways. That is the best thing about it to me.

  6. The story to me is about the richness of life , and the joys of sharing. Here they were , by standards of the day acting out, then; taking no more then they needed, gave all they had to a poor old woman , who requested God bless them.

  7. I really enjoy getting all of these impressions about this, one of my very favorite poems. Thanks again, commenters.

  8. […] […]

  9. I have kept the middle verse of this poem for decades in my jewellery box. I didn’t know it’s author or even that there was more to it. The print was so faint I couldn’t read all the words so I googled the first line never dreaming I,d find anything. Amazing! It reminds me of my youth and young love!

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