Prompt #36 : On Time (and Poems on Time)

While thinking about how to get this prompt posted on time, it occurred to me that time is one of the central organizing themes of poetry (and of art) — time probably has more poems written about it than just about anything else except love and death. Time, Love and Death. The big three. Wouldn’t you say that poems of place (longing for a time past or a future perfect?), poems of heroic deeds and odes (remember the time that so-and-so did whatever-that-was), elegies (lost times with ones loved), and even the lowly limerick (there once was a —) are all about time?

The Academy of American Poets has a whole section of their newly redesigned website (I am NOT a fan, btw) on the subject: Carpe Diem: Poems for Making the Most of Time. Directing you there today, to read poems by poets as various as Robert Herrick, Horace and Tony Hoagland (to only name the poets whose names start with H), saves me a lot of time to write my own poetry. What a deal. There are dozens of poems that this link, go for it!

And then, write your own poem about time. Does its passing frighten you or please you? Remember a time when you laughed, when you cried, when you were with friends. Are you young and wishing you were old enough for — ? Are you old and wishing time would unwind, reboot, just stop for once??

Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote a tiny poem that many of you may not know, but you’ll recognize the image she uses. She could have just said, “Why isn’t there enough time for all the things I want to do with my life?” but she didn’t. She did this. Enjoy.

First Fig

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends-
It gives a lovely light!

(I think there is a reason she named this poem “First Fig” but I can’t remember it now. Someone look it up and report back. Please! )

(Photo of Miss Millay from Wikipedia, by Arnold Genthe.)

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