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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

  1. Why do you think that the poem's title is in Spanish? How does this change your understanding of the poem?
  2. Do you think that repeating the first lines of each stanza makes the experience easier to remember? Why or why not?
  3. What do you think is the memorable part of this night?
  4. What emotions does the speaker try to re-create by re-living this memory?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

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.

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