Millay’s Echoes

Millay’s Echoes

By Robert Creeley

(posted Wednesday, May 13, 1998)

To hear the poet read “Millay’s Echoes,” click here.

“All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked the other way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I’d started from;
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood …”

Was three long mountains and a wood …
The emptying disposition stood,
The empty, echoing mind struck dumb,
The body’s loss of kingdoms come,
Of suns, too many, long gone down,
And on that place precise she’d stood
Little was left to tell of time
Except the proof she traced a line
To make a poem so with my eyes …
of the horizon, thin and fine …

The circle held and here again
One sees what then she’d pointed to–
“Three islands in a bay,” she said,
Much like that emptiness she knew,
The vaguest light, the softest mist
Hid them from sight. So fades at last
Whatever water will know best.
All proof seems pointless in such world,
Seems painful now to bring to mind.

Yet how forget that she once stood
Where now I do in altering time
And saw three mountains and a wood,
And pounding surf far down below
Where, when I look to see in kind
“The three long mountains and a wood,”
They are still there and still the sea
Beats back to me this monody.