I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the
love,—
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not
approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the
world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem Dirge Without Music

8 Comments

  1. Michael says:

    This is a wonderful, powerfully emotional poem. As a person who does not believe in imaginary skyfairies, I really appreciate how this poem expresses the raw emotion of feelings of loss, without making repeated references to “Gods Plan”, or “She is in heaven now” or other simplistic platitutes.

    A few years ago when my loving grandmother died, I was asked to speak at the funeral, which was held at a Catholic church. I wish I had thought to include a reading of this poem back then.

  2. Alice Orshan says:

    As I age and have more personal loses, I return to read “Dirge without Music.” The poem is hardly hopeful and certainly lacks comfort as I grieve, but it is brilliant in its connections with human feelings;and, somehow, its truth and lack of soothing bromides, encourages me to mourn for awhile, then move on.

  3. Dan says:

    Millay opens her heart to the world in this poem, creating a sense of admirable vulnerability, contrasting beautifully with her sense of righteousness and vindication in her beliefs. It sounds as if shes speaking directly to god in those lines “i know. But i do not approve. And i am not resigned.”

  4. Joan says:

    This is a universal comment on death and dying.

  5. Jackie Taylor says:

    it is interesting to see the political interpretation given by Je. This has made me re-read the poem.
    For me it has always been a helpful poem in grief, because it acknowledges the anger, and sense of unfairness that life must end. I do not approve, and I am not resigned.

  6. Jen says:

    This has been one of my favorite poems since I first read it 15 years ago. It’s relevance in today’s political climate is unmistakable and it strikes me as the perfect poem to honor our fallen heroes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  7. Toni says:

    This is a most wonderful poem!

  8. Tiffany says:

    This poem is an excellent but often overlooked love letter for the dead or dying. I plan on having the last line engraved on my marker. Please see my personal webpage for an anaylsis of the poem and of Vincent’s lives.

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