Monday, March 21, 2011

World Poetry Day!

Did you know (before you read the title of my post) that it's World Poetry Day? I didn't either until I signed onto Twitter this morning. But it is! It is! So I figured I'd take this time to talk about the lovely Edna St. Vincent Millay. Who's heard of her?
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! 
                                  -Edna St. Vincent Millay "First Fig"
Well, she as a pretty amazing poet, the third woman to ever receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and also...a feminist. That's right, so of course that makes her even cooler.
Edna St. Vincent Millay was born on February 22, 1892. She first came into the spotlight when she entered a poetry contest called The Lyric Year. She came in forth but apparently the poets that placed ahead of her were so blown away by her talent that they disagreed with the decision! The first place winner called his award "as much an embarrassment to me as a triumph" and thought Millay's poem was the best submitted. The second place winner even gave Millay his $250 prize money. Soon afterwards Millay was heard reciting her poetry in Maine and was offered a scholarship to Vassar. She took it.

Millay wrote many poems over her lifetime and was also an advocate for women's rights and other causes, such as passivism (which can clearly be seen in her works). With Millay came controversy as many of her poems dealt with female sexuality and she was bisexual herself as well which caused quite the stir. The volume which received much of this criticism was A Few Figs from Thistles. She also wrote poems crying out against the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, the most famous being "Justice Denied in Massachusetts."

I could literally keep talking about her for paragraphs and paragraphs...but I won't. I'll just leave you with this poem:
Oh, come, my lad, or go, my lad,
And love me if you like.
I shall not hear the door shut
Nor the knocker strike.

Oh, bring me gifts or beg me gifts,
And wed me if you will.
I'd make a man a good wife,
Sensible and still.

And why should I be cold, my lad,
And why should you repine,
Because I love a dark head
That never will be mine?

I might as well be easing you
As lie alone in bed
And waste the night in wanting
A cruel dark head.

You might as well be calling yours
What never will be his,
And one of us be happy.
There's few enough as is.
                          -Edna St. Vincent Millay "The Betrothal"
For more World Poetry Day posting visit Books, Personally. Have a very poetic day :)


Wall-to-wall books said...

No I did not know!!
I love poetry!

bookspersonally said...


Anonymous said...

I love Millay's poems! So glad you put a spotlight on her today.

llevinso said...

@W2W, I love poetry too, although I don't know as much as I'd like to.

@books, thanks, and thanks for the heads up!

@Jenny, you're welcome! I love her stuff too :)

Wall-to-wall books said...

When I was a teenager I read a lot of Poetry, more than I do now.

Evie said...

I used to read a lot of poetry, your post kind of reminded me of those good days.. I think I should pick it up again! :)
I didn't know about the World Poetry Day either, thanks for sharing!!

Also, thanks for saying that I am not a book-dinosaur :) hahah, good to know there are people out there, who appreciate and review older books!

Laurie said...

Ah, Vincent. Love that poet.
And I still admire and enjoy your blog, ll, even though I somehow missed this post.
Congrats on your first 100, and here's to many more: In true Millay fashion, your voice must be heard!
p.s. I'm a rabid poetry fan, so if you ever want suggestions, just let me know your preferences...