Huntsman and quarry


I too beneath your moon, almighty Sex,
Go forth at nightfall crying like a cat,
Leaving the lofty tower I laboured at
For birds to foul and boys and girls to vex
With tittering chalk; and you, and the long necks
Of neighbours sitting where their mothers sat
Are well aware of shadowy this and that
In me, that’s neither noble nor complex.
Such as I am, however, I have brought
To what it is, this tower; it is my own;
Though it was reared To Beauty, it was wrought
From what I had to build with: honest bone
Is there, and anguish; pride; and burning thought;
And lust is there, and nights not spent alone.

—sonnet from Huntsman, What Quarry? (1939) by Edna St.Vincent Millay

Painted this in one afternoon. I’m going through my “unrequited lust” stage, now…this always happens when Kris has been gone a month or two. Who would believe the dramatic episodes that a woman living alone can go through? Funniest part about it is that, on the surface of things, life continues in its normal way. I go to work, I meet friends, I shop for cat food and apple juice. But my libido is in turmoil, and my demented nights seethe with a sexual appetite that unnerves me. I tend to drink alone a lot, at this stage, and play a lot of velvety-voiced jazz, and dance in the dark with my arms wrapped around myself, and read feverish poetry, and fantasize. Some nights I feel like screaming with the frustration, and think that I must have an amorous encounter—anything! anything!—or throw myself overboard! I feel like a teenager. Or a cat in heat. Hence the painting, and the fragment of sonnet (that I painted from memory and have only just realized I got wrong…it’s “nightfall” not “midnight”).

It seems so ridiculous when I write about it, and right now I laugh at my histrionics, but believe me, I’ve spent quite a few sleepless nights staring at the moon this past week, thinking that if someone perhaps came along in the dark now, I might devour him. Would I? Not really…I still possess a shred of reason, and that’s always been enough to prevent me from doing something really stupid. But god, I ache for some serious lovin’!

The ground, so solid and dependable just a few weeks ago, suddenly seems like a soft, treacherous film floating on a swamp. It’ll pass, it always does (maybe it was last week’s full moon?) but until then, I tread softly! And paint, paint, paint…


4 thoughts on “Huntsman and quarry

  1. I brought this exact painting from a second hand store earlier this year. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. I always wondered who painted it and how it ended up in the shop.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, my, it was given as a present to somebody…kinda hurt they tossed it out, but well, that’s the life of a painting, and maybe it was never meant to be hers, because it found you. I am glad you fell in love with it. Thank you for telling me!


      1. Oh I am so happy I have found where it comes from. I’m in south Australia. Be assured that it takes pride in my home and everyone who visits loves it and appreciates it.
        Thank you as well for introducing me to the poetry of Edna st vincent Millay.
        I truely believe it was meant to be mine. The moment I saw it I fell in love and had to have it. Thank you again, Amy.


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