MacDougal Street by Edna St. Vincent Millay

As I went walking up and down to take the evening air,
     (Sweet to meet upon the street, why must I be so shy?)
I saw him lay his hand upon her torn black hair;
     ("Little dirty Latin child, let the lady by!")

The women squatting on the stoops were slovenly and fat,
     (Lay me out in organdie, lay me out in lawn!)
And everywhere I stepped there was a baby or a cat;
     (Lord God in Heaven, will it never be dawn?)

The fruit-carts and clam-carts were ribald as a fair,
     (Pink nets and wet shells trodden under heel)
She had haggled from the fruit-man of his rotting ware;
     (I shall never get to sleep, the way I feel!)

He walked like a king through the filth and the clutter,
     (Sweet to meet upon the street, why did you glance me by?)
But he caught the quaint Italian quip she flung him from the gutter;
     (What can there be to cry about that I should lie and cry?)

He laid his darling hand upon her little black head,
     (I wish I were a ragged child with ear-rings in my ears!)
And he said she was a baggage to have said what she had said;
     (Truly I shall be ill unless I stop these tears!)


The Provincetown Theatre was located on MacDougal Street, in Greenwich Village, New York. In November 1917, after her graduation from Vassar, Millay and her sister moved into an apartment in Greenwich Village. A few days later, she auditioned for and joined the theatre's acting company (" a salary of nothing at all, that being our artistic custom"(3)).


  1. Early Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay, edited by Holly Peppe (1998)
  2. "Edna St. Vincent Millay's Life" by Robert L. Gale, University of Illinois
  3. What Lips My Lips Have Kissed: The Loves and Love Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Daniel Mark Epstein (2001)

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