Learn More

Edna St. Vincent Millay

(22 February 1892 – 19 October 1950 / Rockland / Maine / United States)

An Ancient Gesture


I thought, as I wiped my eyes on the corner of my apron:
Penelope did this too.
And more than once: you can't keep weaving all day
And undoing it all through the night;
Your arms get tired, and the back of your neck gets tight;
And along towards morning, when you think it will never be light,
And your husband has been gone, and you don't know where, for years.
Suddenly you burst into tears;
There is simply nothing else to do.

And I thought, as I wiped my eyes on the corner of my apron:
This is an ancient gesture, authentic, antique,
In the very best tradition, classic, Greek;
Ulysses did this too.
But only as a gesture,—a gesture which implied
To the assembled throng that he was much too moved to speak.
He learned it from Penelope...
Penelope, who really cried.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

Do you like this poem?
8 person liked.
0 person did not like.

What do you think this poem is about?



Read poems about / on: husband, light, night

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (An Ancient Gesture by Edna St. Vincent Millay )

Enter the verification code :

  • Rookie - 0 Points Colleen Courtney (5/16/2014 2:55:00 PM)

    I'm almost positive there is not a single person out there who's arms have never lofted to make this gesture!
    As she says, sometimes there's just nothing else you can do! (Report) Reply

Read all 2 comments »

Poem of the Day

poet Henry David Thoreau

Conscience is instinct bred in the house,
Feeling and Thinking propagate the sin
By an unnatural breeding in and in.
I say, Turn it out doors,
Into the moors.
...... Read complete »

   

Trending Poems

  1. 04 Tongues Made Of Glass, Shaun Shane
  2. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  3. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
  4. Invictus, William Ernest Henley
  5. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  6. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
  7. If, Rudyard Kipling
  8. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  9. All the World's a Stage, William Shakespeare
  10. Fire and Ice, Robert Frost

Trending Poets

[Hata Bildir]