Rate this poem:(0.00 / 0 votes)

The Heritage

Alice Duer Miller 1874 (New York) – 1942 (New York)

ON summer evenings when the full moon shines
Serene and fair,
High in the crystal air,
On hillsides deep in birches and in pines,
Then in all hearts there stirs a hidden fire
Of hope, or memory;
Some their beloved dead more yearningly desire,
Some dream of loves to be,
Some weep their swift and sweet mortality.

But I remember only,
Long centuries ago,
A glen more dark and lonely
Than these which now I know;
The noise of waters flowing,
And faint, salt breezes blowing,
Ivy and myrtle growing,
As here they do not grow.

There, when the moon was at full we would come, we would come,
To the shrilling of pipes, and the terrible tone of the drum ,
Rolling long, rolling loud, as the voice that presages the rain,
We would come to the cavern profound, to the holy domain.
Then in the moonlight entrancing,
Figures moved agile and fleet,
Then there was dancing, ay, dancing,
Leaping and stamping of feet, ­
Dancers that drifted and darted,
Light as a leaf in the breeze,
Circles that met and that parted,
While the stars danced through the trees.
Quickening, the drums beat the measure,
All the night long on the hill, -
Such was the Thunderer's pleasure. . . .
This I remember me still.

O placid northern moon on this calm lake
Beaming demure and tame,
How can I take
Aught of delight in thy pale flame?
I ache
For a communion I have known
Long centuries ago,
Which nevermore the world will seek, or know;
For a belief outgrown,
Yet how much more my own
Than creeds that hold me quiet on my knees;
For rites, that brought delights like these,
And Gods I once knew how to please.

Font size:

Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:27 min read

Alice Duer Miller

Alice Duer Miller was a writer from the U.S. whose poetry actively influenced political opinion. Her feminist verses made an impact on the suffrage issue, and her verse novel The White Cliffs encouraged U.S. entry into World War II. She also wrote novels and screenplays. more…

All Alice Duer Miller poems | Alice Duer Miller Books

FAVORITE (0 fans)

Discuss this Alice Duer Miller poem with the community:



    Find a translation for this poem in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:


    "The Heritage" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 22 Oct. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/1478/the-heritage>.

    Become a member!

    Join our community of poets and poetry lovers to share your work and offer feedback and encouragement to writers all over the world!

    More poems by

    Alice Duer Miller


    Browse Poetry.com


    Are you a poetry master?

    How many sonnets did William Shakespeare wrote during his life?
    • A. 2
    • B. 101
    • C. 5
    • D. 154

    Our favorite collection of

    Famous Poets