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FURTHER READING
Related Prose
Groundbreaking Book: Collected Sonnets by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1941)
Poetry Landmark: Edna St. Vincent Millay's hometown of Camden, ME
Walking, Poems, Buildings: A Poetry and Architecture Collaboration
Related Events
Poetry Pub Crawl of Greenwich Village
External Links
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
A collection of critical, historical, and biographical information at the Modern American Poetry site.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892-1950
Biography, selected poems, and links from Sappho.com.
Renascence and Other Poems (1917)
From the Columbia University Bartleby Library.
Selected Poems
From the University of Maryland site.
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Edna St. Vincent Millay
photo: Carl Van Vechten Archive at the Smithsonian

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay was born in Rockland, Maine, on February 22, 1892. Her mother, Cora, raised her three daughters on her own after asking her husband to leave the family home in 1899. Cora encouraged her girls to be ambitious and self-sufficient, teaching them an appreciation of music and literature from an early age. In 1912, at her mother's urging, Millay entered her poem "Renascence" into a contest: she won fourth place and publication in The Lyric Year, bringing her immediate acclaim and a scholarship to Vassar. There, she continued to write poetry and became involved in the theater. She also developed intimate relationships with several women while in school, including the English actress Wynne Matthison. In 1917, the year of her graduation, Millay published her first book, Renascence and Other Poems. At the request of Vassar's drama department, she also wrote her first verse play, The Lamp and the Bell (1921), a work about love between women.

Millay, whose friends called her "Vincent," then moved to New York's Greenwich Village, where she led a notoriously Bohemian life. She lived in a nine-foot-wide attic and wrote anything she could find an editor willing to accept. She and the other writers of Greenwich Village were, according to Millay herself, "very, very poor and very, very merry." She joined the Provincetown Players in their early days, and befriended writers such as Witter Bynner, Edmund Wilson, Susan Glaspell, and Floyd Dell, who asked for Millay's hand in marriage. Millay, who was openly bisexual, refused, despite Dell's attempts to persuade her otherwise. That same year Millay published A Few Figs from Thistles (1920), a volume of poetry which drew much attention for its controversial descriptions of female sexuality and feminism. In 1923 her fourth volume of poems, The Harp Weaver, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. In addition to publishing three plays in verse, Millay also wrote the libretto of one of the few American grand operas, The King's Henchman (1927).

Millay married Eugen Boissevain, a self-proclaimed feminist and widower of Inez Milholland, in 1923. Boissevain gave up his own pursuits to manage Millay's literary career, setting up the readings and public appearances for which Millay grew quite famous. According to Millay's own accounts, the couple acted liked two bachelors, remaining "sexually open" throughout their twenty-six-year marriage, which ended with Boissevain's death in 1949. Edna St. Vincent Millay died in 1950.

A Selected Bibliography

Poetry

A Few Figs from Thistles (1920)
Collected Lyrics (1943)
Collected Poems (1949)
Collected Poems (1956)
Collected Sonnets (1941)
Conversations at Midnight (1937)
Distressing Dialogues (1924)
Fatal Interview (1931)
Huntsman, What Quarry? (1939)
Invocation of the Muses (1941)
Make Bright the Arrows (1940)
Mine the Harvest (1954)
Poem and Prayer for an Invading Army (1944)
Poems (1923)
Renascence and Other Poems (1917)
Second April (1921)
The Buck in the Snow (1928)
The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems (1923)
There Are No Islands Any More (1940)
Wine from These Grapes (1934)

Drama

Aria da Capo (1921)
Distressing Dialogues (1924)
The King's Henchmanv (1927)
The Lamp and the Bell (1921)
The Murder of Lidice (1942)
The Princess Marries the Page (1932)
Three Plays (1926)
Two Slatterns and a King (1921)


Multimedia

From the Image Archive
Poems by
Edna St. Vincent Millay

Afternoon on a Hill
Ashes of Life
Assault
Childhood is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies
Ebb
First Fig
God's World
Hearing your words and not a word among them (Sonnet XXXVI)
Humoresque
I know I am but summer to your heart (Sonnet XXVII)
I shall forget you presently, my dear (Sonnet XI)
I think I should have loved you presently (Sonnet IX)
I, Being born a Woman and Distressed (Sonnet XLI)
Inert Perfection
Inland
Intention to Escape from Him
Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX)
Modern Declaration
Passer Mortuus Est
Recuerdo
Renascence
Second Fig
She Is Overheard Singing
Spring
The Plaid Dress
The Suicide
Thursday
Time does not bring relief (Sonnet II)
To a Young Poet
Travel
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII)
Wild Swans
Witch-Wife

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