The Oak Leaves by Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Oak Leaves

Yet in the end, defeated too, worn out and ready to fall,
Hangs from the drowsy tree with cramped and desperate stem above the ditch the last leaf of all.

There is something to be learned, I guess, from looking at the dead leaves under the living tree;
Something to be set to a lusty tune and learned and sung, it well might be;
Something to be learned–though I was ever a ten-o’clock scholar at this school–
Even perhaps by me.

But my heart goes out to the oak-leaves that are the last to sigh “Enough,” and lose their hold;
They have boasted to the nudging frost and to the two-and-thirty winds that they would never die,
Never even grow old.
(These are those russet leaves that cling
All winter, even into the spring,
To the dormant bough, in the wood knee-deep in the snow the only colored thing.

Millay, Edna St. Vincent. Collected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay. New York: Harper, 1939.


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