Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Poet Birthday: Edna St. Vincent Millay

View from Mt. Battie - Camden, Maine

Today is the birthday of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, born in Rockland, Maine (1892).  After her parents divorced in 1900, Millay moved with her sisters and mother to Camden, Maine. Edna was in high school when she submitted a poem, "Renascence," to a poetry contest. She didn't win the contest, but one of the judges fell in love with her, and almost divorced his wife. She performed "Renascence" at a poetry reading, and a woman in the audience was so impressed that she paid Edna's way to Vassar College.

*click to enlarge

The above marker is at the top of Mt. Battie; I like to imagine she wrote this poem here.

Afternoon on a Hill

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!

14 comments:

  1. I don't know much about her life, but I love her sonnets. I got a book of them as a gift in college and memorized half a dozen or so.

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  2. A poet I should like to read more of. Loved this poem.

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  3. Eee, a favorite poet of mine -- I'll have to pull out her collection night to read in her honor. Thanks for the reminder!

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  4. What a lovely poem, the first of hers I have read. I think I'll have to look into reading a few more..

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  5. I do so like her work. I keep meaning to read the biography too. I put up a fun poem of hers on the blog a while back:

    http://lettersfromahillfarm.blogspot.com/2007/09/todays-poem-by-edna-stvincent-millay.html

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  6. I must admit, you've just introduced me to Edna St. Vincent Millay. I must read more about her and her poetry. Thanks!

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  7. JaneGS - I don't know much about her life either. Would love to read the bio!

    Joan Hunter Dunn - She's an American treasure!

    Audra - Hurray! I'll be reading more of her poetry today, too.

    Sam - I hope you do!

    Nan - The poem you posted made me laugh - haven't seen that one before. I'd like to read her bio, too.

    Arti - I hope you get a chance to read some of her poetry. Her bio, Savage Beauty, comes highly recommended, too.

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  8. I made my parents hike to the top of Mount Battie on one of our family vacations years ago - though not a terribly long hike, it's a pretty strenuous one. My mom kept saying she thought we should turn back - but I insisted and we pressed onward. I read "Renasence" to them from the top. Just as I finished the poem, we saw a tour bus pull up just feet from where we were. Oh, if looks could kill, when my mom realized we could have ridden to the top!

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  9. I haven't read any of her work in years. I need to dig through my shelves and find a nice poem of hers to read.

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  10. I love her poetry :-) I used to read her stuff all the time! A while back I found a first edition of one of her books- a treasure!

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  11. Wow!! He almost left his wife for her....wild people!! I love the history lesson and the poem is wonderful!

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  12. Everybookandcranny - LOL! What a great story! The view from the top of Mt. Battie was pretty spectacular... definitely worth the hike.

    Kathleen - It's been a few years for me, too.

    Marie - Oh, a first edition! What a find!

    Staci - I heard her biography, Savage Beauty, is wonderful. I've added that to my list, too.

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  13. Replies
    1. Les - I do, too! It took a trip to Maine to get me to finally read her poetry.

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