The Owls

The owls that roost in the black yew
Along one limb in solemn state,
And with a red eye look you through,
Are eastern gods; they meditate.

No feather stirs on them, not one,
Until that melancholy hour
When night, supplanting the weak sun,
Resumes her interrupted power.

Their attitude instructs the wise
To shun all action, all surprise.
Suppose there passed a lovely face,--

Who even longs to follow it,
Must feel for ever the disgrace
Of having all but moved a bit.

Les Hiboux

Sous les ifs noirs les abritent
Les hiboux se tiennent rangés,
Ainsi que des dieux étrangers,
Dardant leur œil rouge. Ils méditent.

Sans remuer ils se tiendront
Jusqu’à l’heure melancolique
Où, poussant le soleil oblique,
Les ténèbres s’établiront.

Leur attitude au sage enseigne
Qu’il faut en ce monde qu’il craigne
Le tumulte et le mouvement;

L’homme ivre d’une ombre qui passe
Porte toujours le châtiment
D’avoir voulu changer de place.

Translated by Edna St. Vincent Millay, from Flowers of Evil
©1936 by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Norma Millay Ellis
Reprinted by permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Holly Peppe, Literary Executor, The Millay Society,