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by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Stanza 3 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 13-14

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.

  • All right, all right. We get it already! Repeating the same lines has an incantatory feel (see line 7-8). Hey, maybe the third time's the charm!

Lines 15-18

We hailed, "Good morrow, mother!" to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, "God bless you!" for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

  • You know how your mother always told you that sharing would make you happier? It never seemed to work when you had to split your Oreos with the snotty-faced kid next door, did it? Chances are you even started to doubt the ultimate authority of your parental units.
  • This time, though, it seems like our speaker might just have found the perfect way to capitalize upon an already-perfect night: to share the bounty of that night with someone who's less fortunate than she is. There's something really spontaneous and lovely about their gesture. After all, when was the last time that you emptied out your pockets for the homeless guy on the corner?
  • Notice, though, that there's still an ounce of pragmatism in their generosity. It's not like they're totally empting out their pockets. First they take the time to remove the $2.57 it'll take to get themselves home. We're not saying anything about their generosity – it's still pretty incredible to pass on the love the way they're doing. We're just saying that they're not about to go overboard with their happiness. A girl's gotta get home somehow.

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