A Celebration of Women Writers

"The Bean-Stalk" by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
From Millay, Edna St. Vincent. Second April   New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1921. pp. 23-26.

[Page 23] 


Ho, Giant! This is I!
I have built me a bean-stalk into your sky !
La,but it's lovely, up so high!

This is how I came,I put
Here my knee, there my foot,
Up and up, from shoot to shoot
And the blessèd bean-stalk thinning
Like the mischief all the time,
Till it took me rocking, spinning,
In a dizzy, sunny circle,
Making angles with the root,
Far and out above the cackle

[Page 24] 

Of the city I was born in,
Till the little dirty city
In the light so sheer and sunny
Shone as dazzling bright and pretty
As the money that you find
In a dream of finding money
What a wind ! What a morning !

Till the tiny, shiny city,
When I shot a glance below,
Shaken with a giddy laughter,
Sick and blissfully afraid,
Was a dew-drop on a blade,
And a pair of moments after
Was the whirling guess I made,
And the wind was like a whip

[Page 25] 

Cracking past my icy ears,
And my hair stood out behind,
And my eyes were full of tears,
Wide-open and cold,
More tears than they could hold,
The wind was blowing so,
And my teeth were in a row,
Dry and grinning,
And I felt my foot slip,
And I scratched the wind and whined,
And I clutched the stalk and jabbered,
With my eyes shut blind,
What a wind ! What a wind!

Your broad sky, Giant,
Is the shelf of a cupboard;

[Page 26] 

I make bean-stalks, I'm
A builder, like yourself,
But bean-stalks is my trade,
I couldn't make a shelf,
Don't know how they're made,
Now, a bean-stalk is more pliant
La, what a climb!

[Page 27]

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom