Other Figs

Published in 1920, Edna St. Vincent Millay’s, First Fig is one of my favorites.  Of course, it was written from the perspective of a poet.  What, I wondered, might it look like if it were written by someone in another occupation.  Below are the original and a few other examples.


ESVM’s Original Version


My candle burns at both ends.

 It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –

It gives a lovely light

Accountant’s Version

My candle burns at both ends

I cannot put it out

Which means that in just half the time

I’ll have to do without

Lawyer’s Version

My candle burns at both ends

My hands are burned to boot

A blatant case of negligence

I think I’ll file a suit

Politician’s Version

My candle burns at both ends

Your taxes pave the way

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –

You both will get to pay

Then I got to thinking:  What might this poem look like in a form other than rhyming, metered verse.  A few examples are found below:

Haiku Version

Candle’s double flame

Flashes bright like summer sun

Short but vibrant life

Free Verse Version

My candle burns at both ends

Two passion-fired infernos

Racing towards consummation

Thrusting forward

Powered by the force of a runaway metaphor

They unite in a rapture of luminescence

Then nothing

The soul-sucking darkness of the eternal void

Friends and foes can only marvel

At the profligate verbiage

Here’s a great contribution courtesy of  lolamouse.  You should check out her blog….always lot’s of great stuff there!

The Existentialist’s Version

My candle burns at both ends
The wax gives no resistance
But, like life, it matters not
To our meaningless existence

Any other interpretations of the classic are welcome. Vb

This post is linked to One Stop Poetry and Big Tent Poetry

  1. April 19, 2011 at 9:28 PM

    Ah, what fun to read this! All the versions are quite clever!

  2. April 19, 2011 at 10:26 PM

    Very clever! I’m partial to your free verse, actually like it more than the original. Hits the truth home, pulling no punches. I suppose that’s a mixed metaphor:-)

  3. April 19, 2011 at 10:35 PM

    ok the free verse is my fav…the lawyer one gave me a good chuckle…nice one shot

  4. April 19, 2011 at 10:41 PM

    Free verse takes an early lead in the Fig Derby…thanks Ginny, Ann and Brian. Vb

  5. April 19, 2011 at 11:36 PM

    your mind works in an amazing way. nice idea to flesh all your ideas out. the accountant’s was funny, but i’m with brian. free verse was my favorite. well done.

  6. April 20, 2011 at 12:20 AM

    You are very…very clever. I really enjoy visiting your blog. 🙂

  7. earlybird
    April 20, 2011 at 12:39 AM

    You were really on a roll here! Very amusing. Well done. I love the way you’ve succeeded in taking it from the different points of view. I think I’ll go for the lawyer’s version.

  8. April 20, 2011 at 12:40 AM

    You rewrites of this are clever and enjoyable! I sincerely liked the Politician’s and the Accountant’s ones the best. Well done. The free verse one was a little wordy for my taste, it sounds like you’re forcing it. I was crushed by the profligate verbiage. 😉 The haiku, love it. Each line is a sweet pleasure.

  9. kez
    April 20, 2011 at 6:17 AM

    how refreshing and different, really enjoyed it thank you

  10. April 20, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Witty and very amusing. I really enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing, James.

  11. April 20, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    Absolutely brilliant and fun too!

  12. April 20, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    I love ESVM’s original. Have for years. So relatable, when down.

  13. April 20, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    Fun, insightful and clever work!

  14. April 20, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    This needs to be published in Reader’s Digest,or some place else big so more can read your awesome awesome funny brilliance!

    • April 20, 2011 at 7:03 PM

      You are too kind,Jannie. Thanks for taking the time to stop by. Vb

  15. April 20, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    Thanks to all who have read and commented. I sincerely appreciate the encouragement and support. Vb

  16. April 20, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    Very clever approach, great idea and nicely done.

  17. April 20, 2011 at 9:17 PM

    you are a clever one…I’m feeling uber cynical tonight, ergo, the politician one is my favorite, though the haiku is quite brilliant…fabulous oneshot!

  18. April 20, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    Very clever! I liked the politician version the best. 🙂

  19. April 21, 2011 at 12:58 AM

    Ah versebender – you are truly living up to your name! Very fun!

  20. April 21, 2011 at 4:59 AM

    you are a wonderful poet! the first few are hilarious and the last two are masterpieces. 🙂

    loved the politician one.

  21. April 21, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    The Existentialist’s Version:

    My candle burns at both ends
    The wax gives no resistance
    But, like life, it matters not
    To our meaningless existence.

  22. April 22, 2011 at 7:56 AM

    These poems are soooo much fun! How fun! How fun! How fun! So glad I came out to play today!

  23. April 22, 2011 at 7:58 AM


  24. April 22, 2011 at 8:44 AM

    WOW- I LOVE the different versions, and I love them all!

  25. April 22, 2011 at 9:39 AM

    Such generosity, such profligacy of poems given to us. I like them all, but the lawyers has the edge for me.

  26. April 22, 2011 at 10:55 PM

    Yes, versebender, you do live up to your name. Very creative! I’ll definitely be back again to your blog.

  27. April 23, 2011 at 12:42 AM

    I enjoyed all of these. Excellent variations on a theme.

  28. April 23, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    Clever – brilliant – outstanding.

  29. April 24, 2011 at 2:50 AM

    Very clever, as always. You have an unusual mind. Versebender, indeed!:)

  30. April 24, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    I’m back to congratulate you on yet another Limerick of the Week Honorable Mention. Well done, as usual! Limerick of the Week(6).

  31. April 24, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    Oh thanks for the much needed laugh!

  32. Deb
    April 26, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    What a fun surprise!

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