I Tell You Beauty Bears An Ultra Fringe

Millay
Edna St. Vincent Millay

“I’m so tired of hearing about ‘Renascence,’ I’m nearly dead. I find it’s as hard to live down an early triumph as an early indiscretion.”

Edna St. Vincent Millay

XXXV
Fatal Interview

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Clearly my ruined garden as it stood
Before the frost came on it I recall –
Stiff marigolds, and what a trunk of wood
The zinnia had, that was the first to fall;
These pale and oozy stalks, these hanging leaves
Neverless and darkened, dripping in the sun,
Cannot gainsay me, though the spirit grieves
And wrings its hands at what the frost has done.
If in a widening silence you should guess
I read the moment with recording eyes,
Taking your love and all your loveliness
Into a listening body hushed of sighs . . . .
Though summer’s rife and the warm rose in season,
Rebuke me not.  I have a winter reason.


We experienced the best of winter this past weekend in Minneapolis, perfect for the pond hockey events around the area.  Cold enough to produce the bright white squeaky soft snow that muffles sound and reshapes the light so that you see the world in a different way.  The roads were bad, bad enough to close schools and cancel activities and force everyone inside to cook and play games for 24 hours.  It was warm enough, at least for Minnesotans that have the winter gear and proper attitude, that working and playing outside was comfortable. It was exactly the kind of January weekend I enjoy most.

Millay was bi-sexual, her first lovers all women during college. In my opinion, bisexuality is the least accepted consonant among the LGBQT community.  It is isn’t militant enough for some political factions of sexual politics, particularly feminist sexual politics, an undercurrent of “pick a side why don’t you” running through the underbelly of the discourse.  I don’t think Millay would have used that term to describe herself, labels on sexuality are a relatively new concept. She was a generous and self absorbed lover, never truly discarding anyone in her life it seems, once someone became her lover for a period of time. The passion could go out of the balloon quickly with Vincent in terms of sex, but she always surrounded herself with vibrant people and the most vibrant remained on as friends.

The circumstances leading up to her marriage to Eugen Boissevain are a bit convoluted.  She had pursued and rejected several marriage proposals for various reasons prior to her marrying Boissevain.  She was living in Europe and somewhat miserable and lonely, both her younger sisters having already married.   Millay was tired of the constant threat of unpaid bills hanging over her head and wanted more stability that a marriage could provide.   When Eugen entered Vincent’s life he was getting over the tragic death of his first wife, Inez Milholland, who had died 7 years earlier.   By all accounts, Eugen was  the pursuer and he got what he wanted. Eugen was a good fit for Vincent.   He was not threatened by her feminist politics, nor her talent as an artist and had enough money to allow her to focus on her literary pursuits.  He contained the poise and confidence to not be threatened by her love affairs with other men and women during the remainder of their lives and marriage, while being a good companion to Vincent.

A former lover of Vincent’s, Alyse Powers, described Eugen this way:

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Edna St. Vincent Millay and Eugen Boissevain

“Handsome, reckless, mettlesome as a stallion breathing the first morning air, he would laugh at himself, indeed laugh at everything, with a laugh that scattered melancholy as the wind scatters the petals of the fading poppy… One day his house would be that of a citizen of the world, with a French butler to wait on the table and everything done with the greatest bienséance, the next the servants would have as mysteriously disappeared as bees from a deserted hive, and he would be out in the kitchen washing the dishes and whistling a haunting Slavic melody, as light-hearted as a troubadour. He had the gift of the aristocrat and could adapt himself to all circumstances … his blood was testy, adventurous, quixotic, and he faced life as an eagle faces its flight.”

In short, Eugen was as complicated a personality as Vincent and they fit together intricately for the remainder of their days. The next 15 years Vincent and Eugen traveled, lived and worked at Steepletop and made a life together.   Vincent worked hard as a writer and used this period to establish herself in both her place in literary and feminist history and influence.  That she eventually fell both out and into vogue subsequently is a testament to her greatness that is at the core of her best work.  True genius is rare and eventually finds its proper place in our collective cultural appreciation of art.


XLIII
The Harp-Weaver

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Still will I harvest beauty where it grows:
In coloured fungus and the spotted fog
Surprised on foods forgotten, in ditch and bog
Filmed brilliant with irregular rainbows
Of rust and oil, where have a city throws
Its empty tins; and in some spongy log,
Whence headlong leaps the oozy emerald frog. . . .
And a black pupil in the green scum shows,
Her the inhabiter of divers places
Surmising at all doors, I push them all.
Oh, you that fearful of a creaking hinge
Turn back forevermore with craven faces,
I tell you Beauty bears an ultra fringe
Unguessed of you upon her gossamer shawl!

Here Might You Bless Me

Millay_library

 

“The longest absence is less perilous to love than the terrible trials of incessant proximity.”

Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

XXX
The Harp Weaver

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Sometimes when I am wearied suddenly
Of all the things that are the outward you,
And my gaze wanders ere your tale is through
To webs of my own weaving, or I see
Abstractedly your hands about your knee
And wonder why I love you as I do,
Then I recall, “Yet Sorrow thus he drew”;
Then I consider, “Pride thus painted he.”
Oh, friend, forget not, when you fain wound note
In me a beauty that was never mine,
How first you knew me in a book I wrote,
How first you loved me for a written line:
So are we bound till broken in the throat
Of Song, and Art no more leads out the Nine.


Millay’s critics did not like the direct way she dealt with art as Art, love as Love, sorrow as Sorrow and pride as Pride.  They felt it too direct and complained endlessly that it was immature, some even going so far to label it as “bad writing.” What is bad writing? I would really like to know. Is it like the definition of pornography in some people’s minds, they really can’t describe it, but they know it when they read it?

All reading, and particularly, reading poetry, is so incredibly subjective and personal.  I have poems that I love for one line, one image, one feeling they impart, the rest of it can grate on my ears like fingernails on a chalkboard and it doesn’t bother me a bit, in fact I almost seem to enjoy it more for having to waddle through a bit of stuff I can’t seem to wrap my head around for that moment of clarity that leaps off the page as a complete human connection.

Do people really read poetry for understanding to analyze line by line every intention of the poet?  I hope not. Do you go to an art gallery trying to figure out the meaning of every brush stroke of a painting? Do you take in every pixel of a photograph?  Of course not.   You stand back and you let your eye roam around and land on where it pleases you and then see if the brain can make something of the images in ways that make you think, or laugh, or something else. Why does ART have to be serious?  Why does poetry have to make sense?  Can it be just an image that our eye finds floating about within the poem and our mind then can land on what we find interesting?

Next time you read a poem or a novel or a news article that you don’t like, its obvious its to your eyes”bad writing,” try this; don’t read it all and don’t read it linearly.  Scan it and see it, go to the middle, go the end, and see if you find something your like, something that perks your interest,  read that.   Who knows what you may find afterwards….


 

XLV
Fatal Interview

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I know my mind and I have made my choice;
Not from your temper does my doom depend;
Love me or love me not, you have no voice
In this, which is my portion to the end.
Your presence and your favours, the full part
That you could give, you now can take away:
What lies between your beauty and my heart
Not even you can trouble or betray.
Mistake me not – unto my inmost core
I do desire your kiss upon my mouth;
They have not craved a cup of water more
That bleach upon the deserts of the mouth;
Here might you bless me; what you cannot do
Is bow me down, who have been loved by you.


Fatal Interview in my opinion was Millay at the absolute height of her powers as an artist.  Many of her most famous sonnets are contained within its pages and it is written during a period of what appears to be the most stability of her life.   It is written during her time at Steepletop, the home and farm she shared with her husband, Eugen Boissevain.  Their marriage was enduring, successful and met each of their needs to be themselves in all their tortured glory.  I reject this idea that longevity is the only measure of a life well lived.  To live well in the moment and to string as many of those moments together, like pearls, whether it is a long chain or a single beautiful ball of shining hardened mucus. Vincent bet her fortune on love and left nothing for retirement. She never intended to get old.   It was not her idea of a good idea.


XXIX
Fatal Interview

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

Heart, have no pity on this house of bone:
Shake it with dancing, break it down with joy.
No man holds mortgage on it, it is your own;
To give, to sell at auction, to destroy.
When you are blind to moonlight on the bed,
When you are deaf to gravel on the pane,
Shall quavering caution from this house instead
Chuck forth at summer mischief in the lane?
All that delightful youth forbears to spend
Molestful age inherits, and the ground
Will have us, therefore, while we’re young, my friend —
The Latin’s vulgar, but the advice is sound.
Youth have no pity, leave no farthing here
For age to invest in compromise and fear.

This Beast That Rends Me

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George Dillon (1906 – 1968)

Address To The Doomed

by George Dillon

Say it is life that matters. Say the bone
And flesh that blazoned it are but a book
Mislaid, forgotten, and the meaning known.
I will believe, but I have lived to look
On the cold body of the beautiful dead,
White and immobile as the moon in air –
The imperious heart being strangely quieted,
And the proud spirit flown I know not where.
Say it is earth again.  Let it be hid
In ruined leaves.  Account it as the dust
That quarrels not with doom and never did,
And reckon me among the quick who must.
Yet would I sleep tonight at the rose’s root,
Seeing what TIme has trampled underfoot.

October 1930


George Dillon and Edna St. Vincent Millay shared several things, both won the Pulitzer Prize, Millay for The Ballad of the Harp Weaver and Other Poems in 1923 and Dillon for The Flowering Stone in 1932.  They also shared a bed. The two would cross paths in Chicago in 1928, while Vincent was on a reading tour and despite a 14 year age gap, the two were smitten on first sight. Millay was the pursuer and wrote volumes of letters and poems to Dillon in those first torrid months. Millay was married and confided instantly to her husband about her new found boy-toy.  He was wise enough to know that this too would pass, and on the face of it accepted Millay’s love affair with Dillon, which both chronicled in sonnets and poetry; Millay in Fatal Interview and Dillon in The Flowering Stone.   This unconventional mutual confessions of unfaithfulness was a big nothing burger in their own personal lives, but was just the kind of juicy romance that the reading public was hungry for at the time.  To have a strong, beautiful woman, in charge of her own sexuality was an awakening force in evolving norms towards women’s independence and sexual liberation.

Millay simultaneously wrote sonnets to both her husband and Dillon during the years 1928 to 1930 and it is a bit confusing reading Fatal Interview which was written to whom. The sonnet below Millay wrote in pencil on her first lunch with Dillon in 1928 in Chicago, so completely was she infatuated, she gave it to him immediately.  Her opening salvo completely prophetic, so much was she confident in her love language and natural tendencies.

This beast that rends me in the sight of all,
This love, this longing, this oblivious thing,
That has me under as the last leaves fall,
Will glut, will sicken, will be gone by spring.
The wound will heal, the fever will abate,
The knotted hurt will slacken in the breast;
I shall forget before the flickers mate
Your look that is today my east and west.
Unscathed, however, from a claw so deep
Though I should love again I shall not go:
Along my body, waking while I sleep,
Sharp to the kiss, cold to the hand as snow,
The scar of this encounter like a sword
Will lie between me and my troubled lord.

Edna St. Vincent Millay 1928

Dillon went on to become an editor for Poetry magazine from 1937 to 1949.  Today, Dillon is largely forgotten as a poet. His literary legacy did not survive his generation.  He stopped writing poetry by age 41 and eventually faded off the literary landscape. His only present day notoriety is as one of many of Vincent’s lovers. And in that regard, he is in very good company.


To Losers

by George Dillon

Let loneliness be mute. Accuse
Only the wind for what you lose,
Only the wind has ever known
Where anything you lost has gone.
It is the wind whose breath shall come
To quench tall-flaming trees and numb
The narrow bones of birds. It is
The wind whose dissipating kiss
Disbands the soft-assembled rose.
It is the wordless wind that knows
Where every kind of beauty goes.

And if you lose love in the end
Say it was taken by the wind.

Up The Walk She Went With Pride

Millay portrait
Charles Ellis portrait of Edna St. Vincent Millay 1934

I pray if you love me, bear my joy
A little while, or let me weep your tears;
I, too, have seen the quavering Fate destroy
Your destiny’s bright spinning – the dull  shears
Meeting not neatly, chewing at the thread, –
Nor can you well be less aware how fine,
How staunch as wire, and how unwarranted
Endures the golden fortune that is mine.
I pray you for this day at least, my dear,
Fare by my side, that journey in the sun;
Else must I turn me from the blossoming year
And walk in grief the way that you have gone
Let us go forth together to the spring:
Love must be this, if it be anything.

Edna St. Vincent Millay


 

The Little Ghost

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I knew her for a little ghost
That in my garden walked;
The wall is high—higher than most—
And the green gate was locked.

And yet I did not think of that
Till after she was gone—
I knew her by the broad white hat,
All ruffled, she had on.

By the dear ruffles round her feet,
By her small hands that hung
In their lace mitts, austere and sweet,
Her gown’s white folds among.

I watched to see if she would stay,
What she would do—and oh!
She looked as if she liked the way
I let my garden grow!

She bent above my favourite mint
With conscious garden grace,
She smiled and smiled—there was no hint
Of sadness in her face.

She held her gown on either side
To let her slippers show,
And up the walk she went with pride,
The way great ladies go.

And where the wall is built in new
And is of ivy bare
She paused—then opened and passed through
A gate that once was there.

Truth Made Tangible, Is Truth Indeed

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Edna St. Vincent Millay around the time of publishing the poem Renascence.

“It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another; it’s one damn thing over and over.”

Edna St. Vincent Millay

re·nas·cence

/rəˈnasns,rēˈnasns/

noun

FORMAL
noun: renascence; plural noun: renascences
  1. the revival of something that has been dormant.
    “the renascence of poetry as an oral art”
    • another term for Renaissance.
      noun: Renascence

Renascence (excerpt final stanza)

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky,—
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat—the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.

To read the entire poem, click on this link:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/55993/renascence


Renascence was a defining moment for Vincent’s career as an artist and as a person.  It accomplished two things, it brought her to the attention of a broader reading audience, as well as publishers, and solidified the backing of a wealthy patroness, Miss Caroline B. Dow.  Here is how it came about.  The summer Vincent was 20, 1912,  she left the family home in Camden to visit her Aunts in Massachusetts. The funds that bankrolled the trip were the result of Vincent winning ten dollars at an oration contest in which Miss Dow was in the audience.  From that day forward, Dow began thinking about how she could help Vincent maximize her talents, so taken was she by Vincent’s reading of several poems on stage.

Late in that summer, her mother Cora wrote Vincent a letter asking her to come home to Camden.  The enticement was news of a contest being held by The Lyric Year – with a $1,000 being awarded in prize money to the top three poems. Authors could submit unlimited number of poems to Mitchell Kennerley, a New York publisher.  There would be three judges, Edward Wheeler, editor of the Current Opinion, William Braithwaite, poetry editor of the Boston Transcript and the editor of The Lyric Year, who remained nameless. Vincent submitted Renascence and then had the pluck to write to the editors of The Lyric Year several letters, inquiring about how they were progressing in picking a winner. She did it in such unguarded cheeky fashion, that her poems and the letters caught the attention of Ferdinand Earle, one of the editors at Kennerley, who began to correspond with Vincent, praising her poem and suggesting she would be a winner. The complimentary tones on each side continued and Vincent was lead to believe she would be in the top three.

It was a crushing disappoint when the awards were announced and Vincent’s Renascence was out of the money, receiving an honorable mention. The slight in handing several inferior poems cash prizes resulted in critics attempting to make up for the injustice by praising Renascence and the young female poet in their reviews. Even fellow poets included in the anthology wrote to her telling her she should have won. It was Vincent’s first brush with the politics of publishing and it would not be her last. However, Renascence placement in the highly regarded The Lyric Year refocused Miss Dow’s attention on Vincent and solidified her belief in Vincent as a real talent, now with the backing of a prestigious publishing house’s and several critics’s endorsement. And so, Dow went to Camden to speak with Cora, Vincent’s Mother, about finding a way to get Vincent into Vassar College, in Poughkeepsie, New York, to give Vincent the opportunity of a college education.

Miss Dow realized that Vincent lacked not only the finances but the depth of formal education at high school to be admitted based on her transcript alone.  Vincent would have to prove herself college worthy on college admission tests, for languages, Latin, math, science and the humanities.  Vincent buckled down and prepared herself and passed the tests, only just barely making the minimum marks required on math and the sciences. But Vincent knew, though she would never be class valedictorian for academics, she would light up Vassar’s college theater, musical productions and the social scene. With Miss Dow’s financial backing and those of Dow’s friends, the princely sum of $400 was assembled to cover the costs for Vincent’s first year, with promises to continue to assist as long as she kept up her grades. Vincent was about to embark on what would be a life changing experience at Vassar, a future she could never  have imagined just a year before.

What’s interesting is I don’t consider Renascence a great poem. I don’t think its even in her top 50 poems in my opinion.  I think many of Vincent’s sonnets have much more staying power across time and literary landscape. But it was a poem that fit the period for sentiment and style. Young Vincent was smart enough to realize she had to fit in first in the publishing world, before she could stand out on her own.

Vincent penned the forward to her collected sonnets in 1941 and shares what she thinks is her first sonnet, written at age 15, that she unearthed among her papers, written in pencil on lined paper.  It is eerily prophetic and though simpler than her best sonnets, I know that as a writer, if the 49 year old Millay was not proud of her younger self she would not have included it.

Here it is:

Old Letters

By E. ST. V. M

I know not why I am so loath to lay
Your yellowed leaves along the glowing log,
Unburied dead, that cling about and clog –
With indisputable, insistent say
Of the stout past’s all inefficient fray –
The striving present, rising like a fog
To rust the active me, that am a cog
In the great wheel of industry today.
Yet, somehow, in this visible farewell
To the crude symbols of a simpler creed,
I find a pain that had not parallel
When passed the faith itself, – we give small heed
To incorporeal truth, let slack or swell;
But truth made tangible, is truth indeed.

I Will Be The Gladdest Thing

iu-13
Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am glad I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

On Hearing a Symphony of Beethoven’s

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Sweet sounds, oh, beautiful music, do not cease!
Reject me not into the world again.
With you alone is excellence and peace,
Mankind made plausible, his purpose plain,
Enchanted in your air benign and shrewd,
With limbs asprawl and empty faces pale,
The spiteful and the stingy and the rude
Sleep like scullions in the fairy tale.
This moment is the best the world can give:
The tranquil blossom on the tortured stem.
Reject me not, sweet sounds! oh, let me live,
Till Doom espy my towers and scatter them,
A city spellbound under the aging sun,
Music my rampart, and my only one.


In reading Nancy Milford’s biography of Millay titled Savage Beauty, I was struck by how important the role of music played in Vincent’s life. Poetry and poets are not the same thing. You can not reconstruct the poet from the accumulated words of a lifetime. You can get a glimpse of their souls, their personalities, some of their beliefs, but the flesh and blood is far more spurious and complicated. Millay could channel joy in her poetry almost like a melody that runs through many of her poems. Vincent learned to read music at the same time she learned to read poetry.

In 1900 when Vincent was 8 years old, her parents separated and never reconciled, divorcing soon after.  The Millay’s was a modest household prior to the separation but now, Edna and her sisters were thrown into domestic chaos that would shape the co-dependent relationships that were both vibrant and at their core somewhat rotten between her, her siblings and her mother Cora.  Cora spent the next 25 years as a traveling nurse-maid, skilled in the art of nursing sick children back to health from the myriad of childhood diseases at the time.  She rarely was home and so Edna, her younger sisters Norma and Kathleen, ran their own household, in a broken down shack, knowing that the best way to not attract unwanted attention in the community from their plight was for the three little girls to run their lives with pristine efficiency. A list of chores titled “Do It Now” outlined the tasks that each was to complete from 6:00 am to 6:30 pm and then off to bed at 8 pm. The girls often made play of the work by singing to each other, making up songs and crafted a conscious air of happiness, that surrounded them and that was real in their bond to each other, but masked an underlying sadness that pervaded their pain of having no consistent support, financial or domestic, from either parent.  That domestic happiness that the three girls created was a source of intrigue and envy that drew others into their inner circle like moths to a flame throughout their lifetime. It created an unbreakable bond between sisters and between Edna and her Mother.  But not all bonds are forged from only good.  The nuanced way Edna deals with sorrow, indifference and love, I think comes from a deep well of complicated circumstances and hardship.  Edna was a generation older than my parents, both born during the height of the depression, but I have witnessed how “making do” with not much at a young age creates its own pandora’s box of issues that are both positive and negative in shaping young minds.

There are many recordings of Edna reading her poetry.  I will share a few in upcoming posts, but listening to recordings of her voice today, it sounds oddly foreign, a bit jilted, with a curious accent more English than New England.  It sounds like she is putting on airs, trying to impress the rich crowd that she would not only aspire to eventually be part of, but would succeed, though never feeling like she completely fit in. Whether she had a softer, gentler voice for her companions in every day life we will not know, but based on her prolific letter writing and the playful, gentle teasing that pervades it, I have a feeling her unrecorded voice was much softer in song and favored company.

Fragments of Millay’s poetry are pervasive to this day in our collective culture. Her words inspiration for other writers, other artists and pop songs.  I have included a video of Deb Talan’s song the Gladdest Thing that is based on Millay’s poem Afternoon on a Hill.  Enjoy.


Afternoon on A Hill

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

I will be the gladdest thing
    Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
    And not pick one.

I will look at cliffs and clouds
    With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
    And the grass rise.

And when lights begin to show
    Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
    And then start down!

 

 

How Strange A Thing is Death

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The Buck In The Snow

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

White sky, over the hemlocks bowed with snow,
Saw you not at the beginning of the evening the antlered buck
.        . and his doe
Standing in the apple-orchard? I saw them, I saw them
.        . suddenly go,
Tails up, with long leaps lovely and slow,
Over the stone-wall into the wood of hemlocks bowed
.         . with snow.

Now lies he here, his wild blood scalding snow.

How strange a thing is death, bringing to his knees, bringing
.        . to his antlers
The buck in the snow.
How strange a thing, – a mile away by now, it may be,
Under the heavy hemlocks that as the moments pass
Shift their loads a little, letting fall a feather of snow –
Life, looking out attentive from the eyes of the doe.


Welcome to the new year!  2020 has a nice sound to it.  What will the new decade bring to this planet?  To your community?  To your family?  To your life?

Taking a page out of last year’s playbook, I am going to spend January exploring a retrospective of one poet, this year showcasing Edna St. Vincent Millay.  I’ll do a deep dive into her poetry and some by writers in her inner circle, and share some observations from the outstanding biography of her by Nancy Milford.  In general, start out the new year by enjoying one of the best sonneteers in history.

The story of Edna St. Vincent Millay is a complex one, not easily summarized or generalized.  Her life is one of hard work as a writer and artist, defined in part by chance as much as her courage, her unbending individualism, her passion and tragedies.  Millay did what so few are willing to do, share her joy, her sorrow, her love, her condemnation on the page in a very complex way, regardless of the judgements it created.

Millay’s life begins in 1892, her mother giving birth at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City, a teaching hospital founded in 1849 that continued up until 2010 as a vital source of health care in Greenwich Village.  Edna’s mother was so grateful for the generous care she received from the nuns, that she bestowed the name to her oldest daughter as a tribute.  Edna St. Vincent Millay would use that unique and proud moniker to stand out. She submitted her first work to the children’s literary magazine St. Nicholas as E. Vincent Millay as a 12 year old.  The editors correspondence over the following years always began – Master Millay, which she didn’t bother to correct the gender until she was 18. Millay understood from an early age that the world was tipped in favor of men, particularly the world of publishing and poetry during her emergence as a writer.  She never compromised her perspective as a woman, never pandered to the popular or the expected. She wrote with a clear distinctive voice from the very beginning, taking chances that opened some doors and closed others.

Millay is best known for her sonnets on love and relationships, but in preparing for this month’s retrospective, I came to appreciate the complexity of the subjects she encompassed in her poetry throughout her lifetime and the unique brilliance of her writing.  I hope you enjoy the next months journey with me and with Edna St. Vincent Millay.


XLVIII

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Now by the path I climbed, I journey back.
The oaks have grown; I have been long away.
Taking with me your memory and your lack
I now descend into a milder day;
Stripped of your love, unburdened of my hope,
Descend the path I mounted from the plain;
Yet steeper than I fancied seems the slope
And stonier, now that I go down again.
Warm falls the dusk; the clanking of a bell
Faintly ascends upon this heavier air;
I do recall those grassy pastures well:
In early spring they drove the cattle there.
And close at hand should be a shelter, too.
From which the mountain peaks are not in view.