by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Recuerdo Theme of Memory and the Past
One of the miraculous things about "Recuerdo" is that it doesn't try to turn the past into a moral lesson or a revelation or a rationale for a search for Greater Meaning. A lovely set of moments remains just that: a cluster of events that turned out to be a really, really lovely time. St. Vincent Millay layers events on top of each other without pausing to reflect upon their significance. What results is a memory with surprising emotional clarity – without all of the baggage that typically accompanies a poet's turn to the past for inspiration.
Questions About Memory and the Past
- Why do you think that the poem's title is in Spanish? How does this change your understanding of the poem?
- Do you think that repeating the first lines of each stanza makes the experience easier to remember? Why or why not?
- What do you think is the memorable part of this night?
- What emotions does the speaker try to re-create by re-living this memory?
Chew on This
This poem is a perfect example of Wordsworth's definition of poetry as something that should capture "emotion recollected in tranquility."
In this poem, memory works best when it looks both forwards and backwards.