Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Inland

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

In this week’s poem, one of Maine’s greatest poets describes a longing that will be familiar to Mainers accustomed to the sights and sounds of the sea.

Inland by Edna St. Vincent Millay

People that build their houses inland,
      People that buy a plot of ground
Shaped like a house, and build a house there,
      Far from the sea-board, far from the sound
Of water sucking the hollow ledges,
      Tons of water striking the shore,—
What do they long for, as I long for
      One salt smell of the sea once more?
People the waves have not awakened,
      Spanking the boats at the harbour’s head,
What do they long for, as I long for,—
      Starting up in my inland bed,
Beating the narrow walls, and finding
      Neither a window nor a door,
Screaming to God for death by drowning,—
      One salt taste of the sea once more?

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Public Domain. Reprinted from The Maine Poets, Down East Books, 2003. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, Special Assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at 207-228-8263 or poetlaureate@mainewriters.org.