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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


Page ViewsPoemComments
38119 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 552 Comments
19920 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 14 Comments
18112 Sonnets From An Ungrafted Tree Comments and analysis of Sonnets From An Ungrafted Tree by Edna St. Vincent Millay 13 Comments
16317 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 42 Comments
16179 Spring Comments and analysis of Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay 222 Comments
15400 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 12 Comments
14987 Renascence Comments and analysis of Renascence by Edna St. Vincent Millay 51 Comments
14593 First Fig Comments and analysis of First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay 49 Comments
14402 Prayer To Persephone Comments and analysis of Prayer To Persephone by Edna St. Vincent Millay 23 Comments
14221 I Shall Forget You Presently Comments and analysis of I Shall Forget You Presently by Edna St. Vincent Millay 470 Comments
13941 A Visit To The Asylum Comments and analysis of A Visit To The Asylum by Edna St. Vincent Millay 93 Comments
13497 Second Fig Comments and analysis of Second Fig  by Edna St. Vincent Millay 103 Comments
13153 I Think I Should Have Loved You Comments and analysis of I Think I Should Have Loved You by Edna St. Vincent Millay 8 Comments
12512 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 11 Comments
12169 Afternoon On A Hill Comments and analysis of Afternoon On A Hill by Edna St. Vincent Millay 299 Comments
11432 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 60 Comments
11397 Being Young And Green Comments and analysis of Being Young And Green by Edna St. Vincent Millay 12 Comments
11203 God's World Comments and analysis of God's World by Edna St. Vincent Millay 242 Comments
10976 Justice Denied In Massachusetts Comments and analysis of Justice Denied In Massachusetts by Edna St. Vincent Millay 229 Comments
10813 City Trees
10763 Elegy Before Death Comments and analysis of Elegy Before Death by Edna St. Vincent Millay 42 Comments
10203 Journey Comments and analysis of Journey by Edna St. Vincent Millay 12 Comments
9965 Elegy Comments and analysis of Elegy by Edna St. Vincent Millay 3 Comments
9924 The Leaf And The Tree
9921 Ashes Of Life Comments and analysis of Ashes Of Life by Edna St. Vincent Millay 27 Comments
9732 Autumn Daybreak
9528 Feast Comments and analysis of Feast by Edna St. Vincent Millay 6 Comments
9447 The Dream Comments and analysis of The Dream by Edna St. Vincent Millay 262 Comments
8786 Alms Comments and analysis of Alms by Edna St. Vincent Millay 10 Comments
8651 Sonnet (Women Have Loved Before As I Love Now)
8530 Sonnet 06: Bluebeard Comments and analysis of Sonnet 06: Bluebeard by Edna St. Vincent Millay 232 Comments
8448 Ode To Silence Comments and analysis of Ode To Silence by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
8331 Second Fig Comments and analysis of Second Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay 3 Comments
8159 Night Is My Sister, And How Deep In Love
8137 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 53 Comments
7843 The Goose-Girl Comments and analysis of The Goose-Girl by Edna St. Vincent Millay 6 Comments
7842 Witch-Wife Comments and analysis of Witch-Wife by Edna St. Vincent Millay 84 Comments
7817 Burial
7518 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 34 Comments
7336 Assault Comments and analysis of Assault by Edna St. Vincent Millay 11 Comments
6916 Portrait By a Neighbor
6756 Wild Swans Comments and analysis of Wild Swans by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
6755 Indifference Comments and analysis of Indifference by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
6514 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 25 Comments
6457 When The Year Grows Old
6420 The Death Of Autumn
6413 Intention To Escape From Him
6401 Epitaph
6271 The Snow Storm
6249 Eel-Grass Comments and analysis of Eel-Grass by Edna St. Vincent Millay 7 Comments
6244 To the Not Impossible Him Comments and analysis of To the Not Impossible Him by Edna St. Vincent Millay 8 Comments
6201 Grown Up
6129 Thursday Comments and analysis of Thursday by Edna St. Vincent Millay 3 Comments
6127 The True Encounter Comments and analysis of The True Encounter by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
6062 Sonnets 07: When I Too Long Have Looked Upon Your Face
6032 Love, Though for This
5975 Interim Comments and analysis of Interim by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
5893 Bluebeard Comments and analysis of Bluebeard by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
5858 Sonnets 10: Oh, My Beloved, Have You Thought Of This Comments and analysis of Sonnets 10: Oh, My Beloved, Have You Thought Of This by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
5846 Weeds Comments and analysis of Weeds by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
5716 Sonnets 06: No Rose That In A Garden Ever Grew
5685 Make Bright The Arrows Comments and analysis of Make Bright The Arrows by Edna St. Vincent Millay 55 Comments
5586 Souvenir Comments and analysis of Souvenir by Edna St. Vincent Millay 3 Comments
5539 Not Even My Pride Shall Suffer Much
5537 Inland
5500 The Curse
5471 Kin To Sorrow
5413 Menses Comments and analysis of Menses by Edna St. Vincent Millay 9 Comments
5226 Ebb
5226 To A Poet That Died Young
5117 MacDougal Street Comments and analysis of MacDougal Street by Edna St. Vincent Millay 30 Comments
5103 Midnight Oil Comments and analysis of Midnight Oil by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
5095 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
5074 Midnight Oil Comments and analysis of Midnight Oil by Edna St. Vincent Millay 5 Comments
5055 Sonnets 09: Let You Not Say Of Me When I Am Old
4989 Daphne
4983 Think Not, Not For A Moment Let Your Mind
4969 Rosemary Comments and analysis of Rosemary by Edna St. Vincent Millay 11 Comments
4926 To Those Without Pity
4914 To Kathleen
4735 Blight
4661 Scrub Comments and analysis of Scrub by Edna St. Vincent Millay 4 Comments
4653 The Little Hill
4616 Doubt No More That Oberon Comments and analysis of Doubt No More That Oberon by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
4580 If Still Your Orchards Bear
4565 Sonnets 12: Cherish You Then The Hope I Shall Forget
4552 Sonnets 01: We Talk Of Taxes, And I Call You Friend
4540 The Blue-Flag In The Bog Comments and analysis of The Blue-Flag In The Bog by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
4533 Mist In The Valley Comments and analysis of Mist In The Valley by Edna St. Vincent Millay 4 Comments
4509 First Fig Comments and analysis of First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay 24 Comments
4457 Sonnets 05: Once More Into My Arid Days Like Dew
4450 The Wood Road Comments and analysis of The Wood Road by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
4378 Memorial To D.C.
4366 The Betrothal
4327 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 224 Comments
4274 The Merry Maid
4246 Invocation To The Muses
4218 The Return From Town Comments and analysis of The Return From Town by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
4198 The Shroud Comments and analysis of The Shroud by Edna St. Vincent Millay 29 Comments
4130 The Prisoner
4109 The Poet And His Book Comments and analysis of The Poet And His Book by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
4057 She is Overheard Singing Comments and analysis of She is Overheard Singing by Edna St. Vincent Millay 15 Comments
4016 Sonnets 02: Into The Golden Vessel Of Great Song Comments and analysis of Sonnets 02: Into The Golden Vessel Of Great Song by Edna St. Vincent Millay 5 Comments
4006 The Penitent Comments and analysis of The Penitent by Edna St. Vincent Millay 14 Comments
3872 My Most Distinguished Guest And Learned Friend
3858 Sonnet 04: Not In This Chamber Only At My Birth
3833 Three Songs Of Shattering
3805 Lines Written In Recapitulation Comments and analysis of Lines Written In Recapitulation by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
3775 Daphne
3734 To S. M. Comments and analysis of To S. M. by Edna St. Vincent Millay 4 Comments
3602 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
3546 Sonnets 11: As To Some Lovely Temple, Tenantless
3539 The Penitent
3403 Lament Comments and analysis of Lament by Edna St. Vincent Millay 296 Comments
3392 The Singing-Woman from the Wood's Edge
3383 Pastoral
3317 Tavern
3274 The Fledgling
3255 The Unexplorer
2927 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
2536 Modern Declaration Comments and analysis of Modern Declaration by Edna St. Vincent Millay 70 Comments
2337 Recuerdo Comments and analysis of Recuerdo by Edna St. Vincent Millay 526 Comments
1985 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 312 Comments
1818 Oh, Oh, You Will Be Sorry Comments and analysis of Oh, Oh, You Will Be Sorry by Edna St. Vincent Millay 13 Comments
1713 Dirge Without Music Comments and analysis of Dirge Without Music by Edna St. Vincent Millay 45 Comments
1306 Apostrophe To Man Comments and analysis of Apostrophe To Man by Edna St. Vincent Millay 18 Comments
1225 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 55 Comments
1218 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 237 Comments
1114 Conscientious Objector Comments and analysis of Conscientious Objector by Edna St. Vincent Millay 270 Comments
1061 Mariposa Comments and analysis of Mariposa by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
995 The Plaid Dress Comments and analysis of The Plaid Dress by Edna St. Vincent Millay 68 Comments
876 Sonnet 03: Mindful Of You The Sodden Earth In Spring Comments and analysis of Sonnet 03: Mindful Of You The Sodden Earth In Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
863 Song Of A Second April Comments and analysis of Song Of A Second April by Edna St. Vincent Millay 3 Comments
860 Dirge
860 Travel Comments and analysis of Travel by Edna St. Vincent Millay 286 Comments
840 The Ballad Of The Harp-Weaver Comments and analysis of The Ballad Of The Harp-Weaver by Edna St. Vincent Millay 284 Comments
797 Low-Tide
791 Love Is Not All Comments and analysis of Love Is Not All by Edna St. Vincent Millay 83 Comments
755 Wraith Comments and analysis of Wraith by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
713 Oh, Think Not I Am Faithful
707 The Spring And The Fall Comments and analysis of The Spring And The Fall by Edna St. Vincent Millay 223 Comments
665 Portrait By A Neighbour
625 The Bean-Stalk
616 To The Not Impossible Him
589 The Philosopher Comments and analysis of The Philosopher by Edna St. Vincent Millay 7 Comments
570 Departure Comments and analysis of Departure by Edna St. Vincent Millay 454 Comments
513 An Ancient Gesture Comments and analysis of An Ancient Gesture by Edna St. Vincent Millay 789 Comments
501 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
466 Well, I Have Lost You Comments and analysis of Well, I Have Lost You by Edna St. Vincent Millay 301 Comments
308 And do you think that love itself Comments and analysis of And do you think that love itself by Edna St. Vincent Millay 31 Comments
295 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
278 Underground System
274 The Concert
272 Grown Up Comments and analysis of Grown Up by Edna St. Vincent Millay 12 Comments
211 Two Sonnets In Memory
202 The Suicide Comments and analysis of The Suicide by Edna St. Vincent Millay 69 Comments
101 The Little Ghost Comments and analysis of The Little Ghost by Edna St. Vincent Millay 211 Comments
100 Exiled Comments and analysis of Exiled by Edna St. Vincent Millay 215 Comments
88 Passer Mortuus Est
65 Chorus Comments and analysis of Chorus by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
51 I Know The Face Of Falsehood And Her Tongue
49 The Philosopher Comments and analysis of The Philosopher by Edna St. Vincent Millay 33 Comments
39 The Unexplorer
36 The Fawn Comments and analysis of The Fawn by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
9 Sorrow Comments and analysis of Sorrow by Edna St. Vincent Millay 78 Comments


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