Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day Five - First Fig - Edna St. Vincent Millay


My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends⎯
It gives a lovely light!

---Edna St. Vincent Millay

First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay

In elementary school I first encountered this brief and beautiful image driven commentary on how we spend our time here on earth. At that point in time, the childhood version of me didn’t necessarily understand all the complex issues contained in this small wonder. The sounds and cadences in the poem were attractive to my ears and my mind struggled to picture how a candle could burn at both ends and still be in a candlestick holder. Oh, how times change! Years later, I read this poem and turn inward yet again, but now I’m overcome by how I’m spending my candle and the light I’m giving off. In a mere four lines Millay layers the poem with enough depth to literally last a lifetime. Millay’s words are a challenge: are you satisfied with the light you’re giving off?

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