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Biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 - 1950)

Edna St. Vincent Millay, born in 1892 in Maine, grew to become one of the premier twentieth-century lyric poets. She was also an accomplished playwright and speaker who often toured giving readings of her poetry. All of that was in her public life, but her private life was equally interesting. An unconventional childhood led into an unconventional adulthood. She was an acknowledged bisexual who carried on many affairs with women, an affection for which is sometimes evident in her poems and plays. She did marry, but even that part of her life was somewhat unusual, with the marriage being quite open, and extramarital affairs, though not documented, are quite probable.

At the young age of seven, Edna's mother asked her husband to leave the family home. After that point he held a negligible role in the girl's life. Edna and her two sisters moved, with their mother, to Newburyport, Massachusetts where, to Edna's delight, she was given piano lessons. Edna (who insisted on being called Vincent and who even entered writing contests under that name) and her sisters were encouraged in their literary and musical leanings by their mother. Then, in highschool, Millay's interests expanded to include theater. She performed in numerous plays and wrote a Halloween play for her classmates to act out.

Millay enjoyed her free-spirited childhood and adolescence and the creativity that it inspired. At the age of twenty, she entered her poem "Renascence" into a poetry contest for the The Lyric Year, a contest from which 100 poems were to be chosen to be published. It was, at first, overlooked as being too simplistic, however, one of the judges took a second look at it and the poem, now one of her most well known, ended up winning fourth place. It was that poem which really started her on her literary career, beginning with a scholarship to the then all female college of Vassar.

Millay kept up her writing, both poetic and dramatic while at Vassar. It was during this time that she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her book The Harp-Weaver and other Poems. Also during her college career she broadened her sexual horizons to include relationships with women. The most notable of these affairs was one with the English actress Wynne Matthison. Matthison was not the only woman she was involved with, though, and she kept in contact with some of them throughout her life.

Millay's first book of poetry, Renascence and Other Poems was published in 1917 and well received. Then A Few Figs from Thistles was published in 1922 and sparked some attention as well as controversy with its feminist leanings. In particular the poems within maintained that the sexual freedom formerly commandeered by men was equally valid for women. This feeling is particularly obvious in the sonnet beginning "What lips my lips have kissed,".

Keep in mind that all of this was accomplished during Millay's college years! After graduation the woman moved to Greenwich Village in New York, a particularly free-thinking and artistic borough. She kept up her writing as well as her involvements with women, but also began to take men as lovers though it would seem that none of them were able to "sway" her from her natural lesbian leanings. The following paragraph is quoted from another web page dedicated to Edna St. Vincent Millay, which is located at Sappho.com.

In Great Companions, Max Eastman relates an interesting story about Millay that, if true, reveals something of her attitude about own sexuality. According to Eastman, while at a cocktail party Millay discussed her recurrent headaches with a psychologist. He asked her, "I wonder if it has ever occurred to you that you might perhaps, although you are hardly conscious of it, have an occasional impulse toward a person of your own sex?" She responded, "Oh, you mean I'm homosexual! Of course I am, and heterosexual, too, but what's that got to do with my headache?"

Millay did eventually marry Eugen Boissevain, who managed her career and was a great source of support. The marriage, as mentioned above, was agreed to be open and Millay herself said that they maintained their personal freedom, living more as great friends than as husband and wife. Millay, a smoker in an age of smokers, succumbed to her failure in 1950 at her home, Steepletop, in Austerlitz New York. Boissevain, who was considerably older, had died the previous year.



165 Poems written by Edna St. Vincent Millay

The poems are by default sorted according to volume, but you can also choose to sort them alphabetically or by page views.

Volume | [Alphabetically] | Page Views | Comments | First Lines


PoemComments
A Visit To The Asylum Comments and analysis of A Visit To The Asylum by Edna St. Vincent Millay 71 Comments
Afternoon On A Hill Comments and analysis of Afternoon On A Hill by Edna St. Vincent Millay 89 Comments
Alms Comments and analysis of Alms by Edna St. Vincent Millay 6 Comments
An Ancient Gesture Comments and analysis of An Ancient Gesture by Edna St. Vincent Millay 173 Comments
And do you think that love itself Comments and analysis of And do you think that love itself by Edna St. Vincent Millay 22 Comments
Apostrophe To Man Comments and analysis of Apostrophe To Man by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
Ashes Of Life Comments and analysis of Ashes Of Life by Edna St. Vincent Millay 4 Comments
Assault Comments and analysis of Assault by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
Autumn Daybreak
Being Young And Green Comments and analysis of Being Young And Green by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
Blight
Bluebeard Comments and analysis of Bluebeard by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
Burial
Chorus Comments and analysis of Chorus by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
City Trees
Conscientious Objector Comments and analysis of Conscientious Objector by Edna St. Vincent Millay 54 Comments
Daphne
13. Daphne
Departure Comments and analysis of Departure by Edna St. Vincent Millay 52 Comments
Dirge
Dirge Without Music Comments and analysis of Dirge Without Music by Edna St. Vincent Millay 27 Comments
Doubt No More That Oberon Comments and analysis of Doubt No More That Oberon by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
Ebb
Eel-Grass Comments and analysis of Eel-Grass by Edna St. Vincent Millay 3 Comments
Elegy Comments and analysis of Elegy by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
Elegy Before Death Comments and analysis of Elegy Before Death by Edna St. Vincent Millay 23 Comments
Epitaph
Exiled Comments and analysis of Exiled by Edna St. Vincent Millay 15 Comments
Feast Comments and analysis of Feast by Edna St. Vincent Millay 4 Comments
First Fig Comments and analysis of First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay 10 Comments
1. First Fig Comments and analysis of First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay 36 Comments
Fontaine, Je Ne Boirai Pas De Ton Eau! Comments and analysis of Fontaine, Je Ne Boirai Pas De Ton Eau! by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
God's World Comments and analysis of God's World by Edna St. Vincent Millay 43 Comments
Grown Up Comments and analysis of Grown Up by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
11. Grown Up
Here Is A Wound That Never Will Heal, I Know Comments and analysis of Here Is A Wound That Never Will Heal, I Know by Edna St. Vincent Millay 48 Comments
I Dreamed I Moved Among The Elysian Fields Comments and analysis of I Dreamed I Moved Among The Elysian Fields by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
I Know I Am But Summer To Your Heart Comments and analysis of I Know I Am But Summer To Your Heart by Edna St. Vincent Millay 3 Comments
I Know The Face Of Falsehood And Her Tongue
4. I Shall Forget You Presently Comments and analysis of I Shall Forget You Presently by Edna St. Vincent Millay 64 Comments
2. I Think I Should Have Loved You Comments and analysis of I Think I Should Have Loved You by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
If I Should Learn, In Some Quite Casual Way Comments and analysis of If I Should Learn, In Some Quite Casual Way by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
If Still Your Orchards Bear
Indifference
Inland
Intention To Escape From Him
Interim Comments and analysis of Interim by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
Invocation To The Muses
Journey Comments and analysis of Journey by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
Justice Denied In Massachusetts Comments and analysis of Justice Denied In Massachusetts by Edna St. Vincent Millay 21 Comments
Kin To Sorrow
Lament Comments and analysis of Lament by Edna St. Vincent Millay 83 Comments
Lines Written In Recapitulation Comments and analysis of Lines Written In Recapitulation by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
Love Is Not All Comments and analysis of Love Is Not All by Edna St. Vincent Millay 70 Comments
1. Love, Though for This
Low-Tide
6. MacDougal Street Comments and analysis of MacDougal Street by Edna St. Vincent Millay 24 Comments
Make Bright The Arrows Comments and analysis of Make Bright The Arrows by Edna St. Vincent Millay 41 Comments
Mariposa Comments and analysis of Mariposa by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
Memorial To D.C.
Menses Comments and analysis of Menses by Edna St. Vincent Millay 5 Comments
Midnight Oil Comments and analysis of Midnight Oil by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
15. Midnight Oil Comments and analysis of Midnight Oil by Edna St. Vincent Millay 3 Comments
Mist In The Valley Comments and analysis of Mist In The Valley by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
Modern Declaration Comments and analysis of Modern Declaration by Edna St. Vincent Millay 55 Comments
My Most Distinguished Guest And Learned Friend
Night Is My Sister, And How Deep In Love
Not Even My Pride Shall Suffer Much
Not In A Silver Casket Cool With Pearls Comments and analysis of Not In A Silver Casket Cool With Pearls by Edna St. Vincent Millay 51 Comments
Ode To Silence Comments and analysis of Ode To Silence by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
Oh, Oh, You Will Be Sorry Comments and analysis of Oh, Oh, You Will Be Sorry by Edna St. Vincent Millay 4 Comments
3. Oh, Think Not I Am Faithful
Passer Mortuus Est
Pastoral
Pity Me Not Because The Light Of Day Comments and analysis of Pity Me Not Because The Light Of Day by Edna St. Vincent Millay 7 Comments
14. Portrait By a Neighbor
Portrait By A Neighbour
Prayer To Persephone Comments and analysis of Prayer To Persephone by Edna St. Vincent Millay 5 Comments
3. Recuerdo Comments and analysis of Recuerdo by Edna St. Vincent Millay 106 Comments
Renascence Comments and analysis of Renascence by Edna St. Vincent Millay 25 Comments
Rosemary Comments and analysis of Rosemary by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
Scrub Comments and analysis of Scrub by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
Second Fig Comments and analysis of Second Fig  by Edna St. Vincent Millay 87 Comments
2. Second Fig Comments and analysis of Second Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
8. She is Overheard Singing Comments and analysis of She is Overheard Singing by Edna St. Vincent Millay 11 Comments
Song Of A Second April
Sonnet (Women Have Loved Before As I Love Now)
1. Sonnet 01: Thou Art Not Lovelier Than Lilacs,óNo Comments and analysis of Sonnet 01: Thou Art Not Lovelier Than Lilacs,óNo by Edna St. Vincent Millay 46 Comments
2. Sonnet 02: Time Does Not Bring Relief; You All Have Lied Comments and analysis of Sonnet 02: Time Does Not Bring Relief; You All Have Lied by Edna St. Vincent Millay 24 Comments
3. Sonnet 03: Mindful Of You The Sodden Earth In Spring
4. Sonnet 04: Not In This Chamber Only At My Birth
5. Sonnet 05: If I Should Learn, In Some Quite Casual Way Comments and analysis of Sonnet 05: If I Should Learn, In Some Quite Casual Way by Edna St. Vincent Millay 18 Comments
6. Sonnet 06: Bluebeard Comments and analysis of Sonnet 06: Bluebeard by Edna St. Vincent Millay 22 Comments
Sonnets 01: We Talk Of Taxes, And I Call You Friend
Sonnets 02: Into The Golden Vessel Of Great Song
Sonnets 03: Not With Libations, But With Shouts And Laughter Comments and analysis of Sonnets 03: Not With Libations, But With Shouts And Laughter by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
Sonnets 04: Only Until This Cigarette Is Ended Comments and analysis of Sonnets 04: Only Until This Cigarette Is Ended by Edna St. Vincent Millay 98 Comments
Sonnets 05: Once More Into My Arid Days Like Dew
Sonnets 06: No Rose That In A Garden Ever Grew
Sonnets 07: When I Too Long Have Looked Upon Your Face
Sonnets 08: And You As Well Must Die, Beloved Dust Comments and analysis of Sonnets 08: And You As Well Must Die, Beloved Dust by Edna St. Vincent Millay 20 Comments
Sonnets 09: Let You Not Say Of Me When I Am Old
Sonnets 10: Oh, My Beloved, Have You Thought Of This
Sonnets 11: As To Some Lovely Temple, Tenantless
Sonnets 12: Cherish You Then The Hope I Shall Forget
Sonnets From An Ungrafted Tree Comments and analysis of Sonnets From An Ungrafted Tree by Edna St. Vincent Millay 4 Comments
Sorrow Comments and analysis of Sorrow by Edna St. Vincent Millay 52 Comments
Souvenir Comments and analysis of Souvenir by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
Spring Comments and analysis of Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay 19 Comments
Sweet Love, Sweet Thorn, When Lightly To My Heart Comments and analysis of Sweet Love, Sweet Thorn, When Lightly To My Heart by Edna St. Vincent Millay 31 Comments
Tavern
The Ballad Of The Harp-Weaver Comments and analysis of The Ballad Of The Harp-Weaver by Edna St. Vincent Millay 82 Comments
The Bean-Stalk
The Betrothal
The Blue-Flag In The Bog Comments and analysis of The Blue-Flag In The Bog by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
The Concert
The Curse
The Death Of Autumn
The Dream Comments and analysis of The Dream by Edna St. Vincent Millay 55 Comments
The Fawn Comments and analysis of The Fawn by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
The Fledgling
The Goose-Girl Comments and analysis of The Goose-Girl by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
The Leaf And The Tree
The Little Ghost Comments and analysis of The Little Ghost by Edna St. Vincent Millay 7 Comments
The Little Hill
16. The Merry Maid
The Penitent Comments and analysis of The Penitent by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
12. The Penitent
The Philosopher Comments and analysis of The Philosopher by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
19. The Philosopher Comments and analysis of The Philosopher by Edna St. Vincent Millay 28 Comments
The Plaid Dress Comments and analysis of The Plaid Dress by Edna St. Vincent Millay 58 Comments
The Poet And His Book Comments and analysis of The Poet And His Book by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
9. The Prisoner
The Return From Town Comments and analysis of The Return From Town by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
The Shroud Comments and analysis of The Shroud by Edna St. Vincent Millay 25 Comments
The Singing-Woman From The Wood's Edge Comments and analysis of The Singing-Woman From The Wood's Edge by Edna St. Vincent Millay 24 Comments
7. The Singing-Woman from the Wood's Edge
The Snow Storm
The Spring And The Fall Comments and analysis of The Spring And The Fall by Edna St. Vincent Millay 24 Comments
The Suicide Comments and analysis of The Suicide by Edna St. Vincent Millay 50 Comments
The True Encounter Comments and analysis of The True Encounter by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
The Unexplorer
10. The Unexplorer
The Wood Road Comments and analysis of The Wood Road by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
Think Not, Not For A Moment Let Your Mind
Three Songs Of Shattering
4. Thursday Comments and analysis of Thursday by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
To A Poet That Died Young
17. To Kathleen
18. To S. M. Comments and analysis of To S. M. by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
To The Not Impossible Him
5. To the Not Impossible Him Comments and analysis of To the Not Impossible Him by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
To Those Without Pity
Travel Comments and analysis of Travel by Edna St. Vincent Millay 70 Comments
Two Sonnets In Memory
Underground System
Weeds Comments and analysis of Weeds by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
Well, I Have Lost You Comments and analysis of Well, I Have Lost You by Edna St. Vincent Millay 87 Comments
What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, And Where, And Why (Sonnet XLIII) Comments and analysis of What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, And Where, And Why (Sonnet XLIII) by Edna St. Vincent Millay 129 Comments
When The Year Grows Old
When We Are Old And These Rejoicing Veins Comments and analysis of When We Are Old And These Rejoicing Veins by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
Whereas At Morning In A Jeweled Crown Comments and analysis of Whereas At Morning In A Jeweled Crown by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
Wild Swans Comments and analysis of Wild Swans by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
Witch-Wife Comments and analysis of Witch-Wife by Edna St. Vincent Millay 71 Comments
Wraith Comments and analysis of Wraith by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment


Books by Edna St. Vincent Millay
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