This poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950) is titled “Departure”. It holds a special place in my heart because I first read it at age 9 in a tattered copy of an old magazine, tucked away in a shelf of a library. Last night, while hunting for someting, I found an old notebook where I'd carefully copied this poem in schoolgirl cursive writing! You could say that this was one of the starting points of my life-long romance with poetry. The sentiment expressed by St. Vincent Millay appealed to the romantic in me, the thought of leaving it all behind, nary a care, just flying, flying away. Then I was brought up short by the end!
It was a beautiful morning, clear and crisp and a little nippy, when I went ambling through a cedar forest, past a little hamlet in a little-known part of my area. This journey was somehow enhanced because my walking companion understood the need for stillness and did not rush in to fill conversational gaps.
As we walked, the sight of this little path brought back memories of that musty old library in Mhow, being perched on a ladder that lead up to a ceiling that seemed to climb right up to the sky and that startling poem in that tattered copy of Ainslee’s Magazine.It’s little I care what path I take,
And where it leads it’s little I care,
But out of this house, lest my heart break,
I must go, and off somewhere!
I wish I could walk for a day and a night
And find me at dawn in a desolate place,
With never the rut of a road in sight,
Or the roof of a house, or the eyes of a face.
But dump or dock, where the path I take
Brings up, it’s little enough I care,
And it’s little I’d mind the fuss they’ll make,
Huddled dead in a ditch somewhere.
“Is something the matter, dear,” she said,
“That you sit at your work so silently?”
“No, mother, no—’twas a knot in my thread.
There goes the kettle—I’ll make the tea.”