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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
37655 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 542 Comments
25152 The Ballad Of The Harp-Weaver Comments and analysis of The Ballad Of The Harp-Weaver by Edna St. Vincent Millay 279 Comments
19332 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 6 Comments
17222 Sonnets From An Ungrafted Tree Comments and analysis of Sonnets From An Ungrafted Tree by Edna St. Vincent Millay 6 Comments
15995 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 33 Comments
15935 Spring Comments and analysis of Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay 219 Comments
15115 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 9 Comments
14635 Renascence Comments and analysis of Renascence by Edna St. Vincent Millay 31 Comments
14353 First Fig Comments and analysis of First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay 44 Comments
13801 I Shall Forget You Presently Comments and analysis of I Shall Forget You Presently by Edna St. Vincent Millay 465 Comments
13605 Prayer To Persephone Comments and analysis of Prayer To Persephone by Edna St. Vincent Millay 8 Comments
13499 A Visit To The Asylum Comments and analysis of A Visit To The Asylum by Edna St. Vincent Millay 86 Comments
13066 Second Fig Comments and analysis of Second Fig  by Edna St. Vincent Millay 95 Comments
12785 I Think I Should Have Loved You Comments and analysis of I Think I Should Have Loved You by Edna St. Vincent Millay 5 Comments
12184 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 4 Comments
11865 Afternoon On A Hill Comments and analysis of Afternoon On A Hill by Edna St. Vincent Millay 288 Comments
11125 Being Young And Green Comments and analysis of Being Young And Green by Edna St. Vincent Millay 3 Comments
10969 God's World Comments and analysis of God's World by Edna St. Vincent Millay 240 Comments
10966 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 58 Comments
10526 Justice Denied In Massachusetts Comments and analysis of Justice Denied In Massachusetts by Edna St. Vincent Millay 221 Comments
10356 City Trees
10340 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
10258 Elegy Before Death Comments and analysis of Elegy Before Death by Edna St. Vincent Millay 32 Comments
9838 Journey Comments and analysis of Journey by Edna St. Vincent Millay 4 Comments
9728 The Leaf And The Tree
9596 Ashes Of Life Comments and analysis of Ashes Of Life by Edna St. Vincent Millay 11 Comments
9577 Elegy Comments and analysis of Elegy by Edna St. Vincent Millay 3 Comments
9415 The Suicide Comments and analysis of The Suicide by Edna St. Vincent Millay 59 Comments
9398 Autumn Daybreak
9151 The Dream Comments and analysis of The Dream by Edna St. Vincent Millay 260 Comments
9094 Feast Comments and analysis of Feast by Edna St. Vincent Millay 6 Comments
8843 Sorrow Comments and analysis of Sorrow by Edna St. Vincent Millay 61 Comments
8557 Alms Comments and analysis of Alms by Edna St. Vincent Millay 9 Comments
8374 Sonnet (Women Have Loved Before As I Love Now)
8324 Sonnet 06: Bluebeard Comments and analysis of Sonnet 06: Bluebeard by Edna St. Vincent Millay 220 Comments
8198 Ode To Silence Comments and analysis of Ode To Silence by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
8128 Second Fig Comments and analysis of Second Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay 3 Comments
7874 Night Is My Sister, And How Deep In Love
7855 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 48 Comments
7698 The Fawn Comments and analysis of The Fawn by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
7603 Witch-Wife Comments and analysis of Witch-Wife by Edna St. Vincent Millay 74 Comments
7576 Burial
7561 Chorus Comments and analysis of Chorus by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
7535 The Goose-Girl Comments and analysis of The Goose-Girl by Edna St. Vincent Millay 6 Comments
7264 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 33 Comments
7135 Assault Comments and analysis of Assault by Edna St. Vincent Millay 3 Comments
7060 Exiled Comments and analysis of Exiled by Edna St. Vincent Millay 211 Comments
6584 Wild Swans Comments and analysis of Wild Swans by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
6564 Indifference Comments and analysis of Indifference by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
6558 Portrait By a Neighbor
6273 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 22 Comments
6245 The Death Of Autumn
6237 Intention To Escape From Him
6191 Epitaph
6107 When The Year Grows Old
6042 Grown Up
5977 The Snow Storm
5950 Thursday Comments and analysis of Thursday by Edna St. Vincent Millay 3 Comments
5944 Eel-Grass Comments and analysis of Eel-Grass by Edna St. Vincent Millay 4 Comments
5940 To the Not Impossible Him Comments and analysis of To the Not Impossible Him by Edna St. Vincent Millay 4 Comments
5939 The Little Ghost Comments and analysis of The Little Ghost by Edna St. Vincent Millay 206 Comments
5917 The True Encounter Comments and analysis of The True Encounter by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
5912 Sonnets 07: When I Too Long Have Looked Upon Your Face
5783 Love, Though for This
5764 Interim Comments and analysis of Interim by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
5719 Bluebeard Comments and analysis of Bluebeard by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
5679 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
5617 Weeds Comments and analysis of Weeds by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
5501 Sonnets 06: No Rose That In A Garden Ever Grew
5395 The Unexplorer
5345 Not Even My Pride Shall Suffer Much
5320 Souvenir Comments and analysis of Souvenir by Edna St. Vincent Millay 3 Comments
5319 Make Bright The Arrows Comments and analysis of Make Bright The Arrows by Edna St. Vincent Millay 49 Comments
5316 The Curse
5293 Inland
5240 Kin To Sorrow
5217 Menses Comments and analysis of Menses by Edna St. Vincent Millay 8 Comments
5148 Passer Mortuus Est
5077 Ebb
5000 To A Poet That Died Young
4926 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
4915 Sonnets 09: Let You Not Say Of Me When I Am Old
4910 Midnight Oil Comments and analysis of Midnight Oil by Edna St. Vincent Millay 5 Comments
4888 Midnight Oil Comments and analysis of Midnight Oil by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
4833 Daphne
4828 MacDougal Street Comments and analysis of MacDougal Street by Edna St. Vincent Millay 26 Comments
4770 Think Not, Not For A Moment Let Your Mind
4764 Rosemary Comments and analysis of Rosemary by Edna St. Vincent Millay 3 Comments
4764 The Philosopher Comments and analysis of The Philosopher by Edna St. Vincent Millay 32 Comments
4717 To Kathleen
4709 To Those Without Pity
4534 Blight
4502 The Little Hill
4432 Scrub Comments and analysis of Scrub by Edna St. Vincent Millay 4 Comments
4415 Doubt No More That Oberon Comments and analysis of Doubt No More That Oberon by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
4414 Sonnets 12: Cherish You Then The Hope I Shall Forget
4374 Sonnets 01: We Talk Of Taxes, And I Call You Friend
4372 If Still Your Orchards Bear
4333 Mist In The Valley Comments and analysis of Mist In The Valley by Edna St. Vincent Millay 4 Comments
4258 The Blue-Flag In The Bog Comments and analysis of The Blue-Flag In The Bog by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
4247 Sonnets 05: Once More Into My Arid Days Like Dew
4219 The Betrothal
4204 The Wood Road Comments and analysis of The Wood Road by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
4187 Memorial To D.C.
4137 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 216 Comments
4096 Invocation To The Muses
4092 The Merry Maid
4050 The Return From Town Comments and analysis of The Return From Town by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
4042 The Shroud Comments and analysis of The Shroud by Edna St. Vincent Millay 29 Comments
3938 The Prisoner
3882 She is Overheard Singing Comments and analysis of She is Overheard Singing by Edna St. Vincent Millay 14 Comments
3870 The Poet And His Book Comments and analysis of The Poet And His Book by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
3813 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 2 Comments
3752 The Penitent Comments and analysis of The Penitent by Edna St. Vincent Millay 9 Comments
3715 My Most Distinguished Guest And Learned Friend
3686 Three Songs Of Shattering
3680 Sonnet 04: Not In This Chamber Only At My Birth
3658 First Fig Comments and analysis of First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay 12 Comments
3616 Lines Written In Recapitulation Comments and analysis of Lines Written In Recapitulation by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
3596 Daphne
3549 To S. M. Comments and analysis of To S. M. by Edna St. Vincent Millay 4 Comments
3406 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
3388 The Penitent
3357 Sonnets 11: As To Some Lovely Temple, Tenantless
3257 The Singing-Woman from the Wood's Edge
3217 Pastoral
3176 Tavern
3112 The Fledgling
3033 The Unexplorer
2805 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
2766 Lament Comments and analysis of Lament by Edna St. Vincent Millay 288 Comments
2437 The Spring And The Fall Comments and analysis of The Spring And The Fall by Edna St. Vincent Millay 223 Comments
2002 Well, I Have Lost You Comments and analysis of Well, I Have Lost You by Edna St. Vincent Millay 294 Comments
1793 Recuerdo Comments and analysis of Recuerdo by Edna St. Vincent Millay 516 Comments
1749 Modern Declaration Comments and analysis of Modern Declaration by Edna St. Vincent Millay 62 Comments
1560 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 296 Comments
1374 Oh, Oh, You Will Be Sorry Comments and analysis of Oh, Oh, You Will Be Sorry by Edna St. Vincent Millay 5 Comments
1224 Dirge Without Music Comments and analysis of Dirge Without Music by Edna St. Vincent Millay 35 Comments
959 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 225 Comments
945 Apostrophe To Man Comments and analysis of Apostrophe To Man by Edna St. Vincent Millay 12 Comments
851 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 54 Comments
764 Mariposa Comments and analysis of Mariposa by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
730 Two Sonnets In Memory
679 The Plaid Dress Comments and analysis of The Plaid Dress by Edna St. Vincent Millay 63 Comments
631 Song Of A Second April Comments and analysis of Song Of A Second April by Edna St. Vincent Millay 2 Comments
605 Dirge
604 Sonnet 03: Mindful Of You The Sodden Earth In Spring
578 Low-Tide
561 Wraith Comments and analysis of Wraith by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1 Comment
513 Oh, Think Not I Am Faithful
477 I Know The Face Of Falsehood And Her Tongue
477 Portrait By A Neighbour
452 The Bean-Stalk
441 Conscientious Objector Comments and analysis of Conscientious Objector by Edna St. Vincent Millay 260 Comments
419 To The Not Impossible Him
378 Travel Comments and analysis of Travel by Edna St. Vincent Millay 276 Comments
262 Departure Comments and analysis of Departure by Edna St. Vincent Millay 446 Comments
204 The Philosopher Comments and analysis of The Philosopher by Edna St. Vincent Millay 3 Comments
139 Underground System
27 An Ancient Gesture Comments and analysis of An Ancient Gesture by Edna St. Vincent Millay 769 Comments
24 Grown Up Comments and analysis of Grown Up by Edna St. Vincent Millay 5 Comments
24 Love Is Not All Comments and analysis of Love Is Not All by Edna St. Vincent Millay 72 Comments
19 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
15 The Concert
9 And do you think that love itself Comments and analysis of And do you think that love itself by Edna St. Vincent Millay 26 Comments


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