And you as well must die, beloved dust,
And all your beauty stand you in no stead;
This flawless, vital hand, this perfect head,
This body of flame and steel, before the gust
Of Death, or under his autumnal frost,
Shall be as any leaf, be no less dead
Than the first leaf that fell,–this wonder fled.
Altered, estranged, disintegrated, lost.
Nor shall my love avail you in your hour.
In spite of all my love, you will arise
Upon that day and wander down the air
Obscurely as the unattended flower,
It mattering not how beautiful you were,
Or how beloved above all else that dies.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem Sonnets 08: And You As Well Must Die, Beloved Dust


  1. John Youngblood says:

    I first read this poem when I was engaged to my wife–and I couldn’t imagine her youth and beauty conquered by death. I still can’t. Fortunately we are both still alive and in love; and I view this poignant poem with a degree of trepidation, as some people watch horror films. I can read the poem and be affected by it and weep; and then go in and hold her close. I dread the day I will have to read the poem without her.

  2. Angela says:

    I first read this poem at age 19, while watching my mother slowly die of breast Cancer. It immediatly struck a cord. It expressed the utter helplessness in the inevitability of death. It also showed man no less vulnerable to the cycle of life than the leaves on the trees or the wilting flowers. Our death is just as inevitable, and as unimpoertant to the earth.

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