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Sacred and Profane Love: The Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay
by Kathryn Voorhees

"Today we have many women poets who are speaking frankly about a woman's nature. In 1931, we had Edna St. Vincent Millay"
–Patricia A. Klemans

dna St. Vincent Millay occupies an uneasy position in the canon of American literature and in the poetic tradition at large. Critical vacillation concerning the quality and importance of her poetry is not new, and neither is the reader's fascination with a life lived large in defiance of accepted social mores. As Patricia Klemens writes, Millay, by the age of 31, had "led a life of personal and sexual freedom generally reserved only for men in our society. Her poetry presents this new viewpoint to literature--the liberated woman's view" (201). Millay's role as new woman was hard won, however, both in her personal and professional lives, and her journey from the youthful author of "Renascence" with its traditional Christian iconography to the mature writer of her sonnet sequence, Fatal Interview, marks the true greatness of her poetic achievement: her search for the Beloved and her willingness to subvert societal expectations to render that experience into personal philosophy and public verse.

Edna St. Vincent Millay was born on 22 February 1892 in Rockland, Maine to Henry Tolman Millay, a high school teacher and eventually a school superintendent in Union, Maine and Cora Buzzell Millay. Her father was, regrettably, also a compulsive gambler, and her parents divorced when Millay was 8 years old. In a letter to Esther Root on 24 August 1923 Millay briefly summarizes the fragmenting of her family:

And cranberries--I remember a swamp of them that made a short-cut to the railroad station when I was seven. It was down across that swamp my father went, when my mother told him to go & not come back. (Or maybe she said he might come back if he would do better--but who ever does better?) (176)
While Millay's background was one of poverty--her mother worked as a practical nurse and hair weaver and was often gone from the home for long stretches of time--the family, Cora, Edna, Norma, and Kathleen, was inordinately close. Cora Millay was committed to the cultural enrichment of her daughters and instilled in them a love of music (Millay was an accomplished classical pianist) and books, while at the same time nurtured in them (somewhat from necessity, of course) independence and self-reliance.

Although Millay had published juvenile verse in the popular children's magazine, St. Nicolas, she first won public notice at the acceptance of her 214-line poem "Renascence" for inclusion in The Lyric Year, an anthology edited by Ferdinand Earle to consist of the 100 best poems in America for the year 1912. While Millay did not win first prize for the best poem (she placed fourth), critical and popular assessment declared Millay the winner. Orrick John's comment on receiving first prize for his poem "Second Avenue" is telling: "The outstanding poem in that book was 'Renascence" by Edna St. Vincent Millay, immediately acknowledged by every authoritative critic as such. The award was as much an embarrassment to me as a triumph" (qtd. in Macdougall 18).

Millay was to profit greatly from her fourth-place poem, however, since Caroline B. Dow, director of the National Training School of the YWCA, upon hearing Millay recite "Renascence" at a reception, agreed to sponsor Millay's continuing education, which took place at Barnard College in 1913 and Vassar College, where Millay earned an A.B. in 1917, almost barred from participating in graduation exercises due to rules infractions. Millay's avant-garde lifestyle was to continue in her years living in Greenwich Village where she had liaisons with numerous lovers. After living abroad for several years as a correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine, writing under the pseudonym Nancy Boyd, Millay married Eugen Jan Boissevain, a Dutch businessman once married to the suffragist Inez Milholland, who then devoted the remainder of his life to the support of Millay and her talent. They eventually settled at Steepletop, a 700 acre farm in the Berkshire foothills in Austerlitz, New York. From the time she was 30 until her death, Millay was plagued by various illnesses, hospitalizations, and operations: ulcerated intestines; headaches and altered vision; one abortion; and arm and shoulder pain from being thrown from a moving car. The result of these physical complaints--some legitimate and some psychosomatic--was emotional exhaustion and nervous breakdowns. Another consequence was addition to alcohol and addictive drugs, mainly morphine, prescribed by doctors for the pain and usually administered by Eugen. In spite of her physical and emotional challenges, she produced an astounding amount of work and life experience, including actress (both her reading performances and for the Provincetown Players in Greenwich Village), playwright, librettist, translator, popular fiction writer, and poet, producing some 500 poems over the course of her lifetime. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 for The Harp Weaver, the first volume by a woman to receive this prize. One year after her husband died of complications from cancer surgery, Millay died on 19 October 1950 at the age of 52 from a broken neck suffered in a fall down the stairs of her home at Steepletop.[1]

Millay's critical reception has been as varied as her life story. While reviewers commented quite favorably on her first three volumes of poetry, Renascence & Other Poems (1917), A Few Figs from Thistles (1920), and Second April (1921), critical opinion soon fractured. Marianne Moore famously said, "The problem about Vincent Millay is that she was popular for all the wrong reasons" (qtd. in Sprague 168). In her early life, that popularity sprung from her role as the Greenwich Village Bohemian, the young woman who penned the generational manifesto "First Fig":

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. (Collected Poems 127)
Influenced by this poem and the lifestyle it invoked, Elizabeth Atkins called Millay "the It-girl of the hour" (70); Millay's reputation as a cultural phenomenon was further fueled by her public readings of her poetry, readings that John Ciardi termed "triumphs of trailing gowns and far-flung gestures (8). Calling her poetry "overdramatic," "a posture rather than an experience," he concludes, "Perhaps her poems must be forgotten" (9, 77). A second reason for Millay's conflicted critical reception is the fact that she was writing on the unfashionable side of the Modernist revolution and rejected--or ignored--the new forms of literary modernism. John Crowe Ransom has made the bold claim that Millay has nothing significant to say to an intellectual male (98). Allen Tate agrees that Millay is deficient in "not [being] an intellect but a sensibility" and, therefore, has not--like Eliot--given to her generation "a philosophy in comprehensive terms; her poetry does not define the break with the nineteenth century (335). Tate further asserts that Millay is not of the first order of poets but is a "distinguished" example of the second order. Tate's position has its echoes in recent scholarship, as well.[2]

Finally, Millay's reputation has suffered from her political poetry written later in her life, specifically those poems written in opposition to the Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti case and the Spanish Civil War. World War II and the rise of fascism resulted in more propaganda verse written primarily for the Writer's War Board in the early 1940's, as Millay felt conscience-bound to respond. She was acutely aware of the damage such poetry was causing her reputation, evident in a letter to a Vassar roommate Mrs. Charlotte Babcock Sills in January of 1941:

And though I have no sons to be caught in this war, if we are caught in it, I have one thing to give in the service of my country, --my reputation as a poet. How many more books of propaganda poetry containing as much bad verse as this one does, that reputation can withstand without falling under the weight of it and without becoming irretrievably lost, I do not know--probably not more than one. But I have enlisted for the duration. (Letters, 311-12)

Critical reception of Millay's life, persona, and poetry is not all negative, however. Her contemporary, Harriet Monroe, calls her "perhaps the greatest woman poet since Sappho," concluding that one or two of Millay's sonnets "will rank among the best of a language extremely rich in beautiful sonnets" (260, 265). Even Allen Tate concedes that her best sonnets "would adorn any of the great English sequences" (336). More surprisingly, he admires her "skillful" use of the Shakespearean sonnet form, "whose difficult final couplet she has mastered, and perhaps is alone in having mastered since Shakespeare" (336). Contemporary reassessment of her reputation has been largely the result of feminist critical attention afforded her life and her works. Following upon Louis Untermeyer's earlier assessment that Millay was "traditional in form and unorthodox in spirit (645), Rosemary Sprague opines ". . . that she refused to be influenced by "The Waste Land" and its imitations is rather more to her credit than otherwise" (171), and Gilbert Allen reminds us that "Millay's work obviously rests upon assumptions that are different from those of High Modernism; but difference does not necessarily imply inferiority, and inferiority does not necessarily imply lack of value" (271). Millay, according to Suzanne Clark, mobilizes the power of traditional forms "to her own ends" (6), and those ends are rendering female experience, writing "not only about love but about lust, about a women's right to stalk and choose as well as to adore and suffer" (qtd. in Jones 45). She writes, ultimately, about love and her longing for absolute love, but her subject matter reveals the dichotomy that is Millay--her persona declares herself totally in love, but she understands that her love is a pose. How one defines "pose"--either as Millay's dishonest trick or as the very stuff of imaginative creation--determines ultimately how one responds to the body of Millay's work.

Absolute love, for Millay, begins as a religious quest and ends up as her search for the Beloved, a movement that can be traced from her early poem "Renascence," her first major published success, a poem that renders a mystical view of the universe, a "cosmic love poem" (Epstein xiv) that ends with the speaker's exultant epiphany that "The soul can split the sky in two, / And let the face of God shine through (Millay, Collected Poems 13). In her youth, Millay attended the Congregational Church in Camden, Maine, was part of a girl's Bible study group, and taught Sunday school with her close girlfriend, Abbie Evans, the preacher's daughter. Her early religious idealism was short-lived, however, and Daniel Mark Epstein points out that the chief theme of her diary immediately after her graduation from Camden High "is not romance or poetry" but is "the crisis of faith, brought on superficially by her exasperation with the Sunday school class, but more deeply and effectively by a genuine, finely articulated battle between reason and belief" (26). While her crisis of faith leads Millay away from a traditional religious faith (in a letter to Edmund Wilson in July of 1922 she offers him a "pious pagan prayer" (Millay, Letters 153), Christian and pagan myth in Millay's later work represents her need to believe in something--a spiritual hunger no matter what form it may take. Ultimately, spirituality for Millay becomes the magic of the invocation of and the quest for the Beloved.

The Beloved was not new to Millay's consciousness. In April of 1911, a year before "Renascence" was accepted for publication in The Lyric Year, she began a diary to accompany what she called a "Consecration Service" dedicated to her dream lover. At this point, as Nancy Milford points out, "[h]er extravagantly adored beloved was imaginary" (53), yet lines from an early poem in her journal illustrate the central desire of the Millay persona: "To seek you, find you, have you for my own / Who are my purpose and my destiny" (qtd. in Milford 54). Millay spent her early life searching to make that imaginary lover flesh and blood, with liasions with, among others, Floyd Dell and Arthur Davidson Ficke. In an October 1920 letter to Ficke, Millay writes language reminiscent of that found in her "Consecration" diary: "It is very dear to me to know that you love me, Arthur, --just as I love you, quietly, quietly, yet with all your strength, & with a strength greater than your own that drives you towards me like a wind. . . . You will never grow old to me, or die, or be lost in any way" (Millay, Letters 105). Yet while her friendship with Ficke will last until his death in 1945, she will search restlessly for the next dream lover shortly after she penned this letter to him. Millay's sonnet "What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why" from The Harp Weaver and Other Poems, presents Millay's vision of both her own and her persona's continual search for The Beloved and its inevitable result.

A crucial tension in Millay's love poetry is the juxtaposition of her persona's spiritual hunger for the Beloved and her defiance of "the masculine sexual prerogative by asserting the female speaker's independence and lack of sentimentality regarding sex" (Walker 149). In this sonnet, the persona is a middle-aged woman--older than Millay when she wrote this poem in May 1920 (Epstein 151)-- who reflects upon "what loves have come and gone" (l. 13), "unremembered lads" who will never again "turn to me at midnight with a cry" (l. 8). The poignant focus of this sonnet is on the "ghosts" who return metaphorically to her as rain that taps and sighs against the window, men whose names and faces (represented through the synecdoche of the arms and lips in the first two lines) she can no longer remember. The octave of this Petrarchan sonnet represents the speaker's past tense summary of her earlier passional life, the "summer" that "sang" in her, the only past tense verb of the sestet that reinforces the sense of time past. Assonance also connects the octave and the sestet as the ghosts that "sigh" in the octave become the "silent" boughs of the sonnet's central metaphor, the personified lonely tree in winter that cannot name the birds that "have vanished one by one, / Yet knows its boughs more silent than before" (ll. 10, 11).

In this sonnet, there is not one Beloved, and, indeed, the substitute dactyl foot of the second line of the sonnet places the emphasis in the poem on the speaker and not the numerous lads she has known. The "quiet pain" stirring in the speaker's heart is the pain of time passing, her acceptance of the winter season that, she knows, will preclude the return of the lads that she would then, in time, not remember. The speaker does not repent of her past life; the emotion is sadness, not regret, sadness that the summer sang in her "[a] little while" that results in the oxymoronic "quiet pain" she feels in her heart. Millay's sonnet focuses on the elusiveness of the Beloved, certainly, and the sadness of the inevitable aging process, but, most important, the poem reinforces the right of the speaker to have chosen the life she has led without regret.

Millay will return to the symbolic change of the seasons in her Shakespearean sonnet sequence Fatal Interview, published in 1931, her work that has received the bulk of Millay scholarship in recent years; Cheryl Walker calls the sequence "probably Millay's most highly respected book of poems" (157). Millay wrote this sonnet sequence of 52 poems, representing the 52 weeks of a year, in response to her relationship with George Dillon in 1928 while she was married to Eugen Boissevain, whom Daniel Mark Epstein calls "literally the 'dream lover' she had summoned with candles and incantations when she was nineteen back in Camden, Maine" (175). While Millay wrote to Dillon that she was "devoted" to her husband and "loves him more deeply than I could ever express" (Epstein 207), the language that she uses in another letter to Dillon is strongly reminiscent of the language to her beloved Ficke quoted above: "In any case, either you [Dillon] come here, & at once, or I come to Chicago. You have nearly killed me. I won't stand it any longer. I love you and I'm going to see you" (Milford 312-13). Millay the woman, like her poetic persona, was still restlessly searching for the Beloved ideal, one of her "unremembered lads," "lad" being an appropriate word in this case as George Dillon was 14 years her junior. To read the sonnets from Fatal Interview as autobiography, however, ignores Millay's careful craftsmanship of the sequence, including her editing and rearranging of the chronological order of the sonnets after the affair was over. Further, the sonnets use multiple classical allusions that Hoff claims "make it seem mythical rather than personal" (2). The sequence is framed by the myth of Selene and Endymion, and Cupid and Psyche, Aeneas and Dido, and Troilus and Cressida, among others, appear throughout the sequence. Further, the title itself reflects the long tradition of love poetry conventions and conceits, as it comes from John Donne's "Elegy 16."

Sonnet XL from the sonnet sequence, "You loved me not at all, but let it go," records a year of a failed love affair that begins in winter, flourishes throughout the heat of summer, and ends the following winter. Unlike the previous sonnet, the speaker of this poem is mourning the loss of one Beloved. The first two lines and the concluding couplet frame the action of the remainder of the sonnet. The first two lines admit the painful truth: "You loved me not at all, but let it go; / I loved you more than life, but let it be" (ll. 1, 2). The concluding couplet portends the future: "And you will leave me, / and I shall entomb / What's cold by then in an adjoining room" (ll. 13. 14). The speaker shall "entomb"--lock away, or repress--the cold truth of the loss of love, and while there is no mention, as in the last sonnet, of "quiet pain," the speaker's anguish is suggested by the poet's choice of diction: "injured"; "tarnish"; "gravely"; "eloquent abuse" (another oxymoron); "entomb"; "cold." Like the speaker of "What lips," the summer of love is gone, leaving the speaker as bereft as the earlier lonely tree in winter. The substitute metrical feet that begin the third line cause the reader temporarily to stumble, reinforcing the speaker's sense of injury. Yet, despite the speaker's anger evident in her determination to meet the morning "standing, and at odds / With heaven and earth and hell and any fool / Who calls his soul his own, and all the gods" ( ll. 9-11), the speaker "gravely" chooses to resist revenge on the Beloved as she will "let the weapons tarnish where they lie" (l. 6) and focus, instead, on the return to mundane life, "And all the children getting dressed for school" (l. 12).

The speaker's decision to accept the inevitable--whether that inevitability is old age or the loss of the Beloved, (or the loss of God)--has moved some critics to claim that Millay's sonnets, and Fatal Interview in particular, ultimately leave the reader with the picture of woman as vulnerable, humiliated, and abandoned. Jane Stanbrough writes: "Millay's profound suffering and her constant rendering of personal vulnerability become increasingly comprehensible in the context of her imagery of woman as victim," ultimately concluding that, for Millay, "brutalization and victimization characterize woman's existence" (194, 197). Yet, a careful analysis of this sonnet seems to belie this position. The speaker's decision to "meet the morning standing" connotes courage and determination, as does her choice not to exact revenge from the Beloved who has left her not for another woman, but because "he cannot love with an intensity and constancy equal to hers" (Klemans 209). Holly Peppe asserts that the end result of the speaker's "fatal" meeting "is a positive one" (53), and Ernest J. Smith agrees, writing that this sonnet, and Fatal Interview as a whole, "ends, despite sorrow, on a note of a willed affirmation. Part of that affirmation is constituted by the poem itself, the brave, honest record of love" (48).

Edna St. Vincent Millay's search for the Beloved, whether personally or creatively, is ultimately a recognition of the integrity of the self. This hard-won epiphany does not protect the speaker (or the poet) from pain, loss, or the understanding that time can limit and destroy. Indeed, an interesting late poem, "Truck-Garden Market-Day" from Mine the Harvest published posthumously, dramatizes the paradox that even if the persona were to marry and live with the Beloved (Eugen?), the speaker risks the loss of that integrity: her life is "cramped" by him, demanding a "soft surrender" of her independence that leaves her "the timid, laughed-at slave / Of a man unaware of this, and tender" (ll. 11-12). The speaker struggles with the tension that exists between the married and the private self as she remembers her childhood and her "girlish" room ,"Watching the moon from my window, / While cool on the empty bed her light was" (ll. 7, 8), the moonlight a symbol of both the Consecration Service from Millay's own girlhood where, pre-sexual and chaste, she invoked the Beloved as well as an allusion to Selene, the moon goddess who frames Fatal Interview. The speaker's desire to protect her Beloved from "How small a part of myself I keep / To smell the meadows, or sun the churn, / When he's at market, or while he's asleep" (ll. 18-20), is a re-assertion of the power of her individual self apart from the Beloved. Perhaps that is the final irony of the search for love that is the most frequent theme running through Millay's life and work. Millay's search for love ultimately ends in a recognition of the primacy of the self, what is left when men or gods--or God--inevitably are found wanting.


1 For a fuller discussion of the circumstances surrounding Millay's death, see Nancy Milford, Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay (New York: Random House, 2002), p. 528, note.

2 One among several examples is Mary Jo Saeter, who writes: "Edna St. Vincent Millay is a fine minor poet. . . . The unlikelihood of her winning out over the centuries as anything more than that, as someone whose poems generally can be marveled at in every detail, should be no cause for sorrow among her admirers, even those of us who deplore the patlry number of great women poets in English. It's the inconsistency of quality in Millay's poems, not so much among them but within them, that makes any selection especially chancy, and bound to disappoint somewhere" (27).

Three Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Sonnet XLII from The Heart Weaver

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why, I have forgotten, and what arms have lain Under my head till morning; but the rain Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh Upon the glass and listen for reply, And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain For unremembered lads that not again Will turn to me at midnight with a cry. Thus in winter stands the lonely tree, Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one, Yet knows its boughs more silent than before: I cannot say what loves have come and gone, I only know that summer sang in me A little while, that in me sings no more.

Sonnet XL from Fatal Interview

You loved me not at all, but let it go; I loved you more than life, but let it be. As the more injured party, this being so, The hour's amenities are all to me-- The choice of weapons; and I gravely choose To let the weapons tarnish where they lie; And spend the night in eloquent abuse Of senators and popes and such small fry And meet the morning standing, and at odds With heaven and earth and hell and any fool Who calls his soul his own, and all the gods, And all the children getting dressed for school . . . And you will leave me, and I shall entomb What's cold by then in an adjoining room.

"Truck-Garden Market-Day" from Mine the Harvest

Peaceful and slow, peaceful and slow,
Skillful and deft, in my own rhythm,
Happy about the house I go--
For the men are in town, and their noise gone with 'em.

Well I remember, long ago,
How still, in my girlish room, the night was--
Watching the moon from my window,
While cool on the empty bed her light was.

More than my heart to him I gave,
When I gave my heart in soft surrender--
Who now am the timid, laughed-at slave
Of a man unaware of this, and tender.

Never must he know how I feel,
Or how, at times, too loud his voice is--
When just at the creak of his wagon-wheel
Cramped for the barn, my life rejoices!

He would be troubled; he could not learn How small a part of myself I keep To smell the meadow, or sun the churn, When he's at market, or while he's asleep.

Works Cited

Allen, Gilbert. "Millay and Modernism." Critical Essays on Edna St. Vincent Millay Ed. William B. Thesing. New York: G.K. Hall, 1993: 266-72.

Atkins, Elizabeth. Edna St. Vincent Millay and Her Times. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1036. Print.

Ciardi, John. "Edna St. Vincent Millay: A Figure of Passionate Living." Saturday Review of Literature 33 (11 Nov 1950): 8, 9, 77. Print.

Clark, Suzanne. "Uncanny Millay." Millay at 100: A Critical Reappraisal. Ed. Diane P. Freedman. Ad Feminam: Women and Literature, ed. by Sandra M. Gilbert. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1995: 3-26. Print.

Epstein, Daniel Mark. What Lips My Lips Have Kissed: The Loves and Love Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay. New York: Henry Holt, 2001. Print.

Hoff, Ann K. "'How Love May Be Acquired': Prescriptive Autobiography in Millay's Fatal Interview. CEA Critic. 68:3 (2006): 1-15. Print.

Jones, Phyllis M. "Amatory Sonnet Sequences and the Female Perspective of Elinor Wylie and Edna St. Vincent Millay." Women's Studies International 10:1 (1983): 41-61. Print.

Klemans, Patricia. "'Being Born A Woman": A New Look at Edna St. Vincent Millay." Critical Essays on Edna St. Vincent Millay Ed. William B. Thesing. New York: G.K. Hall, 1993: 200-212. Print.

Macdougall, Allan Ross, ed. Letters of Edna St. Vincent Millay. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1952. Print.

Millay, Edna St. Vincent. Collected Poems. Ed. Norma Millay Ellis. Imprint. New York: Harper Perrenial, 1956. Print.

---. Letters of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Ed. Allan Ross Macdougall. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1952. Print.

Monroe, Harriet. "Edna St. Vincent Millay." Poetry 24 (Aug 1924): 260-66. Print.

Peppe, Holly. "Rewriting the Myth of the Woman in Love: Millay's Fatal Interview." Millay at 100: A Critical Reappraisal. Ed. Diane P. Freedman. Ad Feminam: Women and Literature, ed. by Sandra M. Gilbert. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1995: 52-65. Print.

Ransom, John Crowe. "The Poet as Woman." The World's Body. New York: Scribners: 76-110. Print.

Smith, Earnest J. "'How the Speaking Pen Has Been Impeded': The Rhetoric of Love and Selfhood in Millay and Rich. Millay at 100: A Critical Reappraisal. Ed. Diane P. Freedman. Ad Feminam: Women and Literature. Ed. by Sandra M. Gilbert. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1995: 43-51. Print.

Sprague, Rosemary. Imaginary Gardens: A Study of Five American Poets. Philadelphia: Chilton, 1969. Print.

Stanbrough, Jane. "Edna St. Vincent Millay and the Language of Vulnerability." Shakespeare's Sisters: Feminist Essays on Women Poets. Eds. Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar. Blomington: Indiana UP: 183-199. Print.

Tate, Allen. "Miss Millay's Sonnets." New Republic 66 (6 May 1931): 335-36. Print.

Untermeyer, Louis. Lives of the Poets. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1959. Print.

Walker, Cheryl. Masks Outrageous and Austere: Culture, Psyche, and Persona in Modern Woman Poets. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1991. Print.

Works by Edna St. Vincent Millay

---."Renascence," in The Lyric Year, edited by Ferdinand Earle, Kennerley, 1912

---.Renascence, and Other Poems, Kennerley, 1917

---.A Few Figs from Thistles: Poems and Four Sonnets, Shay, 1920

---.Aria da Capo (one-act play in verse; first produced in Greenwich Village, NY, December 5, 1919), Kennerley, 1921

---.Second April, Kennerley, 1921

---.The Lamp and the Bell (five-act play; first produced June 18, 1921), Shay, 1921

---.Two Slatterns and a King: A Moral Interlude (play), Kidd, 1921

---.The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver, Shay, 1922

---.The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems, Harper, 1923

---.Poems, Secker, 1923

---.Distressing Dialogues, as Nancy Boyd, Harper, 1924

---.Three Plays, Harper, 1926

---.The King's Henchman (three-act play; first produced in New York, February 17, 1927), Harper, 1927

---.The Buck in the Snow, and Other Poems, Harper, 1928

---.Edna St. Vincent Millay's Poems Selected for Young People, Harper, 1929

---.Fatal Interview, Harper, 1931

---.The Princess Marries the Page (one-act play), Harper, 1932

---.Wine from These Grapes, Harper, 1934

---.Charles Baudelaire, Flowers of Evil, translated by Millay and George Dillon, with an introduction by Millay, Harper, 1936

---.Conversation at Midnight, Harper, 1937

---.Huntsman, What Quarry, Harper, 1939

---.There Are No Islands, Any More: Lines Written in Passion and in Deep Concern for England, France, and My Own Country, Harper, 1940

---.Make Bright the Arrows: 1940 Notebook, Harper, 1940

---.Collected Sonnets, Harper, 1941

---.The Murder of Lidice, Harper, 1942

---.Collected Lyrics, Harper, 1943

---.Second April and The Buck in the Snow, Harper, 1950

---.Letters of Edna St. Vincent Millay, edited by Allan Ross Macdougall, Harper, 1952

---.Mine the Harvest, edited by Norma Millay Ellis, Harper, 1954

---.Collected Poems, edited by Norma Millay Ellis, Harper, 1956


Prize from Poetry, 1920, for "The Beanstalk"

Pulitzer Prize for poetry, 1923, for The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver, A Few Figs From Thistles, and eight sonnets in American Poetry: A Miscellany

Litt.D. from Tufts College, 1925, University of Wisconsin, 1933, Russell Sage College, 1933, and Colby College, 1937

Helen Haire Levinson Prize, 1931, for sonnets in Poetry

laureate of General Federation of Women's Clubs, 1933;

L.H.D. from New York University, 1937;

Gold Medal of the Poetry Society of America, 1943.

Edna St. Vincent Millay
Years: 1892-1950
Birthplace: United States of America
Language(s): English
Forms: lyric poetry; sonnets; ballads; verse dramas; opera libretto; translations; journalism and popular fiction
Subjects: nature; female sexuality; love; death and grief; feminism; justice; social protest; regret and loss
Firsts: The Harp Weaver (1923), first volume by a woman to win the Pulitzer Prize; first woman poet to popularize poetry to mass audiences
Entry By: Kathryn A. Voorhees
Photo Credit: Carl Van Vechten
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