The Blue-Fag in The Bog—By Edna St. Vincent Millay

God had called us, and we came;
Our loved Earth to ashes left;

Heaven was a neighbor’s house,

Open to us, bereft.
Gay the lights of Heaven showed,

And ’twas God who walked ahead;

Yet I wept along the road,

Wanting my own house instead.
Wept unseen, unheeded cried,

“All you things my eyes have kissed,

Fare you well! We meet no more,

Lovely, lovely tattered mist!
Weary wings that rise and fall

All day long above the fire!”—

Red with heat was every wall,

Rough with heat was every wire—
“Fare you well, you little winds

That the flying embers chase!

Fare you well, you shuddering day,

With your hands before your face!
And, ah, blackened by strange blight,

Or to a false sun unfurled,

Now forevermore goodbye,

All the gardens in the world!
On the windless hills of Heaven,

That I have no wish to see,

White, eternal lilies stand,

By a lake of ebony.
But the Earth forevermore

Is a place where nothing grows,—

Dawn will come, and no bud break;

Evening, and no blossom close.
Spring will come, and wander slow

Over an indifferent land,

Stand beside an empty creek,

Hold a dead seed in her hand.”
God had called us, and we came,

But the blessed road I trod

Was a bitter road to me,

And at heart I questioned God.
“Though in Heaven,” I said, “be all

That the heart would most desire,

Held Earth naught save souls of sinners

Worth the saving from a fire?
Withered grass,—the wasted growing!

Aimless ache of laden boughs!”

Little things God had forgotten

Called me, from my burning house.
“Though in Heaven,” I said, “be all

That the eye could ask to see,

All the things I ever knew

Are this blaze in back of me.”
“Though in Heaven,” I said, “be all

That the ear could think to lack,

All the things I ever knew

Are this roaring at my back.”
It was God who walked ahead,

Like a shepherd to the fold;

In his footsteps fared the weak,

And the weary and the old,
Glad enough of gladness over,

Ready for the peace to be,—

But a thing God had forgotten

Was the growing bones of me.
And I drew a bit apart,

And I lagged a bit behind,

And I thought on Peace Eternal,

Lest He look into my mind:
And I gazed upon the sky,

And I thought of Heavenly Rest,—

And I slipped away like water

Through the fingers of the blest!
All their eyes were fixed on Glory,

Not a glance brushed over me;

“Alleluia! Alleluia!”

Up the road,—and I was free.
And my heart rose like a freshet,

And it swept me on before,

Giddy as a whirling stick,

Till I felt the earth once more.
All the earth was charred and black,

Fire had swept from pole to pole;

And the bottom of the sea

Was as brittle as a bowl;
And the timbered mountain-top

Was as naked as a skull,—

Nothing left, nothing left,

Of the Earth so beautiful!
“Earth,” I said, “how can I leave you?”

“You are all I have,” I said;

“What is left to take my mind up,

Living always, and you dead?”
“Speak!” I said, “Oh, tell me something!

Make a sign that I can see!

For a keepsake! To keep always!

Quick!—before God misses me!”
And I listened for a voice;—

But my heart was all I heard;

Not a screech-owl, not a loon,

Not a tree-toad said a word.
And I waited for a sign;—

Coals and cinders, nothing more;

And a little cloud of smoke

Floating on a valley floor.
And I peered into the smoke

Till it rotted, like a fog:—

There, encompassed round by fire,

Stood a blue-flag in a bog!
Little flames came wading out,

Straining, straining towards its stem,

But it was so blue and tall

That it scorned to think of them!
Red and thirsty were their tongues,

As the tongues of wolves must be,

But it was so blue and tall—

Oh, I laughed, I cried, to see!
All my heart became a tear,

All my soul became a tower,

Never loved I anything

As I loved that tall blue flower!
It was all the little boats

That had ever sailed the sea,

It was all the little books

That had gone to school with me;
On its roots like iron claws

Rearing up so blue and tall,—

It was all the gallant Earth

With its back against a wall!
In a breath, ere I had breathed,—

Oh, I laughed, I cried, to see!—

I was kneeling at its side,

And it leaned its head on me!
Crumbling stones and sliding sand

Is the road to Heaven now;

Icy at my straining knees

Drags the awful under-tow;
Soon but stepping-stones of dust

Will the road to Heaven be,—

Father, Son and Holy Ghost,

Reach a hand and rescue me!
“There—there, my blue-flag flower;

Hush—hush—go to sleep;

That is only God you hear,

Counting up His folded sheep!

That is only God that calls,

Missing me, seeking me,

Ere the road to nothing falls!
He will set His mighty feet

Firmly on the sliding sand;

Like a little frightened bird

I will creep into His hand;
I will tell Him all my grief,

I will tell Him all my sin;

He will give me half His robe

For a cloak to wrap you in.

Rocks the burnt-out planet free!—

Father, Son and Holy Ghost,

Reach a hand and rescue me!
Ah, the voice of love at last!

Lo, at last the face of light!

And the whole of His white robe

For a cloak against the night!
And upon my heart asleep

All the things I ever knew!—

“Holds Heaven not some cranny, Lord,

For a flower so tall and blue?”
All’s well and all’s well!

Gay the lights of Heaven show!

In some moist and Heavenly place

We will set it out to grow.
(In honour of World Poetry Day I have to share this one. Aside from its trinity reference, it is perfect. The rhyme & meter pull you through, yes, theoretically it’s flawless, but much more than that, it illustrates our intense love and humanity, the unnaturalness of heavenly desire. What human craves heaven? 

Humans crave Earth. We crave physical earthly things. This piece of writing illustrates this intensity & the sorrow at the very thought of its loss. Vincent, regardless all the hype & rumour of her personal life, craved life on Earth in a way that makes perfect sense based on what I believe. Tho she herself had been taught apparently of ‘The Rapture’ & that God would destroy the Earth, she, quite unknowingly, proves the non-mythical facts of the Bible, which teaches humans were created to live forever, on Earth, in a park-like setting, and to care & cultivate the creation God put here. We were created to be Earth’s caretakers. Her intense sorrow at Earth’s destruction & her subsequent elation at finding the flower & her need to protect it & care for it, even if it is Heaven as a keepsake from her beloved Earth—exquisitely done. It is proof to me, that regardless what you’ve been taught, we have been created with this need to care for & love this place; we are not heaven-bound by nature. 

It would take God himself to change my desire to be alive on Earth. I’ve never craved heaven and I suspect I never will. I will always be here, God willing, I will be one of the old ones who survived & tells the stories of how it was before Armageddon. And when Vincent is ressurected I’ll find her, and teach her & she is gonna cry tears of joy because, she will be among those here & not in heaven. ) BTW, this was a copy & paste and why can’t WP have an easier way of doing that without screwing up the spacing of the stanzas? Super annoying. 


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