The Penitent

By Edna St. Vincent Millay 1892–1950
I had a little Sorrow,
      Born of a little Sin,
I found a room all damp with gloom
      And shut us all within;
And, "Little Sorrow, weep," said I,
"And, Little Sin, pray God to die,
And I upon the floor will lie
      And think how bad I've been!"

Alas for pious planning —
      It mattered not a whit!
As far as gloom went in that room,
      The lamp might have been lit!
My Little Sorrow would not weep,
My Little Sin would go to sleep —
To save my soul I could not keep
      My graceless mind on it!

So up I got in anger,
      And took a book I had,
And put a ribbon on my hair
      To please a passing lad.
And, "One thing there's no getting by —
I've been a wicked girl," said I;
"But if I can't be sorry, why,
      I might as well be glad!"

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Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay 1892–1950

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Men & Women, Humor & Satire

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Edna St. Vincent Millay

Biography

Throughout much of her career, Pulitzer Prize-winner Edna St. Vincent Millay was one of the most successful and respected poets in America. She is noted for both her dramatic works, including Aria da capo, The Lamp and the Bell, and the libretto composed for an opera, The King’s Henchman, and for such lyric verses as “Renascence” and the poems found in the collections A Few Figs From Thistles, Second April, and The Ballad of the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Men & Women, Humor & Satire

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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