kindness & generosity

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable—
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

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


Kindness and generosity
My closed reading (of one theme) and my reflections

The couple, in spite of being tired from riding the ferry all night, acknowledged and greeted perhaps an older woman with “a shawl covered head”, “good morrow, mother!” and bought a morning newspaper from her. She was touched by their kindness.

What is kindness?
Kindness is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. It is also called “gentleness”,
“tender concern”, reflects the kindness of God, an attitude of love. The greetings, the acknowledgement, buying the newspaper (they did not intend to read) are their acts of kindness.The couple so absorbed of each other, tired and may be sleepy took time to do all thoses gestures which they did not have to do after they embarked from the ferry.

What is generosity?
One definitions says: Generosity is “freely sharing what you have with others.”
“Giving something willingly and happily without expecting anything in return” is generosity.At one time also means nobility of the spirit. One writer puts it,”offering something without taking.” The couple then gave her all the remaining apples and pears and all their money from their pockets except their fares for the subway the woman became overwhelmed with emotions wept and prayed for them, “God bless you”, she said.By her kind and generous gestures the poet showed her awareness of humanity around herself, the other, “the shawl-covered head”, became a part of her humanity and their separateness disappeared. The older woman felt this and she wept.

note: I’m taking an eCourse, Ten Premodern Poems by Women, through Stanford University. Recuerdo by Edna St. Vincent Milay is the 10th poem.