FS;HE – Edna St. Vincent Millay

It’s time for another round of the creativity game, Famous Starts/Humble Endings!

If you’ve never played, the rules are fairly simple. I will give you lines of a famous poem in bold. Your job is to write the next line. There are no wrong answers! This is simply a way to play with words and get out of your own way. I will share my humble endings so you don’t feel alone.

The goal is to have fun!

January’s Famous Starts are from Edna St. Vincent Millay. She’s one of my favorite poets for her compassion and lyricism. Because her poetry often has strict meter, I will share the first three lines of a poem to help you hear the rhythm better. Feel free to do your own thing. I’m lousy at meter (structure, measuring, math, you name it), so I won’t judge.

From Epitaph for the Race of Man:

When death was young and bleaching bones were few,
A moving hill against the risen day
The dinosaur at morning made his way,

He found some hapless lesser one to chew,
And died beneath the meteorite’s clay.

(I’m tickled I was able to keep the count of ten, as well as the ending rhymes. But, it’s a bit dull. Oh, well.) Here’s the original’s next two lines:

And dropped his dung upon the blazing dew;
Trees with no name that now are agate grew

Let’s do another. This is from Sonnets from an Ungrafted Tree

She had a horror he would die at night
And sometimes when the light began to fade
She could not keep from noticing how white

The gnarled knuckles of his hand held tight
The staff he’d carved from the woods of this land.

(Again, I’ve got the ten-syllable count. Yay, me. I do think this one would be fun to keep going with, to tell a story. Millay is also telling a story, but it’s much more internal and atmospheric.)

Here’s Millay’s next few lines:

The birches looked — and then she would be afraid,
Even with a lamp, to go about the house

Okay, one more! Let’s do Bluebeard

This door you might not open, and you did;
So enter now, and see for what slight thing
You are betrayed…Here is no treasure hid,

No shortcut to my silent moods, nor sting
Of pain from past loves left unrequited

(This one was my favorite from today. Now I want to go write a poem about Bluebeard!)

Here are the actual next lines:

No cauldron, no clear crystal mirroring
The sought-for Truth, no heads of women slain
For greed like yours, no writhings of distress;

I love how she gets bold in that fifth line. That’s what I hope to one day emulate. The slice of the knife so cleanly and as cold as that.

I hope you had fun; opening yourself to that little spot in your brain where poetry lies growing fragrant blossoms. If you are so inclined, please share your lines in the comments. It helps everyone, and makes me feel pretty good, too. Thank you!

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