The Selected Works of Edna St. Vincent Millay I first heard the poem “Lament” recited by Bill Kloefkorn when 11th grade me was able to attend his poetry workshop at Wesleyan. He spoke about memorizing it in school and that it made his teacher cry, though he didn’t understand why at the time. He didn’t remember the title or author but did remember every word of it.
Listen, children: Your father is dead. From his old coats I’ll make you little jackets; I’ll make you little trousers From his old pants. There’ll be in his pockets Things he used to put there, Keys and pennies Covered with tobacco; Dan shall have the pennies To save in his bank; Anne shall have the keys To make a pretty noise with. Life must go on, And the dead be forgotten; Life must go on, Though good men die; Anne, eat your breakfast; Dan, take your medicine; Life must go on; I forget just why.
I went home that night, looked it up, and called every Kloefkorn until I found him. I got to tell him, and he sounded in awe to have that information returned to him. It’s a powerful poem regardless, and I got this collection for Christmas that year. Then I got to hold to my heart “Witch-Wife” and “Dirge Without Music” and then more and more.