Recuerdo by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Vancouver has two water taxi companies that run up and down False Creek, cross-crossing each other with graceful ease. The pilots seem to have a special language that only they know. From Hornsby Street and Granville Island to Spyglass Place and the Plaza of Nations, these taxis carry visitors from across the world, as well as serve as transportation for locals who want an efficient way to move from point A to point B.

False Creek Ferries and The Aquabus have stories that began in the 1980s.

The Aquabus been serving False Creek and the surrounding area since its inception in June of 1985 by owners Jeff and Margot Pratt. Originally operating with only one boat, the service quickly took off and expanded to include three more of the now-iconic Jay Benford-designed rainbow boats by the time EXPO 86 arrived in town.Aquabus

False Creek Ferries has proudly remained true to its origins as a family-run business, three generations strong, with deep roots in the community. With the former Olympic Village now a thriving new residential area, False Creek’s transformation is nearly complete. Touches of the past remain for those who look, though; a park named after a barrel factory, a reclaimed industrial building, or a little blue ferry chugging along, just as they have for the past forty years.” False Creek Ferries

Whenever I step into a water taxi, I feel like I have entered world that allows me to pause and relax as I watched the buildings move slowly by in a leisurely place. I am reminded of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem about a night riding back and forth on a ferry.

As we end the month of April which celebrates poetry, join me in reciting Recuerdo by Edna St. Vincent Millay.


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.

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

38 thoughts on “Recuerdo by Edna St. Vincent Millay

  1. How lovely! I know she is one of your favorites and one whom I need to revisit soon. She has such a joy, generosity and youthful, carefree adventure in this one you’ve selected to end April. It will stay with me. I enjoyed watching water taxis on the east coast a few years ago but would never, ever get on one I dare say. Hugs for your recitation and your enthusiasm for a local business with family roots.

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    1. I love those water taxis, Mary Jo. And I especially appreciate that they are family owned and operated. When you visit Vancouver, you and I will ride back and forth on the ferry. I just found out the link between Edna St. Vincent Millay and Mary Oliver. Mary visited Edna’s sister Norma at Steepletop! I understand that Mary was influenced by Edna’s poetry. How I would love to visit Steepletop. The library has over 3,000 books!!! What a treasure.

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    1. How very well said, Liz!!! Sorry for the late response. We are in Victoria and I am in and out of WIFI. I was looking forward to listening in on your poetry event and I have a feeling that I missed out. Did you record the event?

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    1. I am delighted that you joined me on this blog ride, Dave. Every time I step into a water taxi, I meet the most interesting people. I even thought I should apply for a position as a pilot – that is until I realized the amount of education/training that was required to become a pilot. Now, I am content to be a passenger, and like Edna, I go back and forth on the ferry! These taxis run all year long so even the locals, depend upon them to ferry that back and forth across False Creek.

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    1. You would enjoy Edna St. Vincent Millay poetry. She had a unique way of looking at the world and had no difficulty expressing her opinion. After Edna’s death in 1950, her sister Norma and husband established the Millay Colony for the Arts on seven acres near the house and barn (where Edna had lived – Steepletop) Norma continued to run the program until her death in 1986. At 17, Mary Oliver (another of my favourite poets) visited Steepletop and became a close friend of Norma. Mary Oliver was inspired by Edna’s work and when on to become a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. So many stories!

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    1. I am delighted that you joined me on the “ferry” Deborah. Isn’t it interesting how small business enterprise generates great outcomes. According to Economic Canada Development: “As of December 2019, the Canadian economy totaled 1.23 million employer businesses. Of these, 1.2 million (97.9 percent) were small businesses, 22,905 (1.9 percent) were medium-sized businesses and 2,978 (0.2 percent) were large businesses.” Small business is vital to our economy. Many thanks for your visit and comments.

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    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed the poetry recitation, Linda. Edna St. Vincent Millay led a very interesting life and was known for her feminist activism. I just learned that her pen name was Nancy Boyd which she used for her prose work. I continue to learn and learn and learn!

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    1. Edna St. Vincent Millay is one of my favourite poets. I have a biography by Nancy Milford I have started and hope to finish by the end of 2022. I understand that Edna was too rebellious to make a success of formal education, but she won poetry prizes from an early age, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1923. It is a reminder that education comes in many different forms! Many thanks for joining me on the “ferry”, Sylvia.

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  2. This is one of my favorite poems. I remember it from years past, I think we read it together in our younger days.
    Always brings joy, I think she profits from her personal experiences and writes from her own time of learning. Anyone who visits Vancouver should be sure to go in search of the ferries, a trip on one of them is an experience not ever to be forgotten! !

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Rebecca, this is a lovely poem and I enjoyed your recital very much. I have only ever been on a ferry in New Zealand. We travelled on them a couple of times to get from Auckland to different islands when we visited in August 2016. It was a lovely experience and the ferry’s were clean and a different experience for us. They had second hand book shops at all the ferry docks which I thought was a great way of subtly promoting reading.

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    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed this recitation. Edna St. Vincent Millay has always been a favourite of mine. Many thanks for reciting your poetry – your voice adds so much to the message. I love traveling on ferries. That is how we traveled from Scotland to Shetland.

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