Edna St Vincent Millay

Edna St Vincent Millay



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Edna St Vincent Millay rođena je u Rocklandu, Maine, 22. veljače 1892. Cora St Vincent Millay sama je odgojila Ednu i njezine tri sestre nakon što je njezin suprug napustio obiteljsku kuću. Kad je Edna imala dvadeset godina, njezina pjesma Renascence objavljena je u Lirskoj godini. Bogata žena po imenu Caroline B. Dow čula je Millay kako recitira svoju poeziju i ponudila se da plati Millayino obrazovanje na Vassar Collegeu.

1917., u godini kada je diplomirala, Millay je objavila svoju prvu knjigu, Preporod i druge pjesme. Nakon što je napustila Vassar, preselila se u Greenwich Village gdje se sprijateljila s književnicima kao što su Floyd Dell, John Reed i Max Eastman. Sva trojica su bila uključena u ljevičarski dnevnik, Mise, te se pridružila njihovoj kampanji protiv američkog upletanja u Prvi svjetski rat.

Millay se također pridružila kazališnoj skupini Provincetown. Jedna koliba na kraju ribarskog pristaništa u luci Provincetown pretvorena je u kazalište. Ostali koji su pisali ili glumili za grupu bili su Floyd Dell, Eugene O'Neill, John Reed, George Gig Cook, Mary Heaton Vorse, Susan Glaspell, Hutchins Hapgood, Neith Boyce i Louise Bryant. Millay se smatrala velikim uspjehom kao Annabelle u filmu The Angel Intrudes Floyda Della. Millay je 1918. režirala i preuzela vodstvo u vlastitoj predstavi, Princeza se udaje za stranicu. Kasnije je režirala svoju moralnu predstavu, Two Slatterns and the King u Provincetownu.

Millay je 1920. objavio novi svezak pjesama, Nekoliko smokvi od čička. To je izazvalo znatnu kontroverzu jer su se pjesme bavile pitanjima poput ženske seksualnosti i feminizma. Njezin sljedeći svezak pjesama, Tkač harfe (1923), nagrađen je Pulitzerovom nagradom za poeziju. Pisacica, Dorothy Parker napisala je: "Kao i svi drugi tada, i ja sam krenula stopama Edne St Vincent Millay, nesretno u vlastitim užasnim tenisicama ... Svi smo bili drski i galantni, izjavljujući da nismo djevice, bile mi ili ne. Lijepa kakva je bila, gospođica Millay je svojim dvostrukim gorućim svijećama nanijela mnogo zla. Učinila je da poezija izgleda tako lako da smo svi to mogli učiniti. Ali, naravno, nismo mogli . "

Floyd Dell prisjeća se kako je bio na zabavi u kući Dudley Field Malone i Doris Stevens, kada je vidio kako se Edna sastaje s Eugenom Boissevainom, udovcem Inez Milholland: "Svi smo igrali šarade u kući Dudley Malone i Doris Stevens. Edna Millay bio je tek natrag nakon godinu dana u Europi. Eugene i Edna imali su ulogu dvoje ljubavnika u slasnom farsičnom izumu, odjednom rableovskom i romantičnom. Odlično su glumili svoje uloge-tako izvanredno, doista, da nam je svima bilo jasno da je to nismo imali samo glumu. Imali smo neobičnu privilegiju vidjeti muškarca i djevojku kako se nasilno i javno zaljubljuju jedno u drugo, govoreći to jedno drugom i to jako lijepo. "

Par se vjenčao 1923. Živjeli su na seoskoj kući po imenu Steepletop, blizu Austerlitza. Obojica su vjerovali u slobodnu ljubav i dogovoreno je da bi trebali imati otvoren brak. Boissevain je upravljao Millayinom književnom karijerom, a to je uključivalo i vrlo popularna čitanja njezina djela. U svojoj autobiografiji Povratak kući (1933), Floyd Dell je komentirao da "nikada nije čuo poeziju koja se čita tako lijepo".

1927. pridružila se drugim radikalima kao što su John Dos Passos, Alice Hamilton, Paul Kellog, Jane Addams, Heywood Broun, William Patterson, Upton Sinclair, Dorothy Parker, Ben Shahn, Felix Frankfurter, John Howard Lawson, Freda Kirchway, Floyd Dell, Bertrand Russell, John Galsworthy, Arnold Bennett, George Bernard Shaw i HG Wells u kampanji protiv predloženog pogubljenja Nicole Sacca i Bartolomea Vanzettija. Dan prije pogubljenja Millay je uhićena na demonstracijama u Bostonu zbog "krstarenja i lutanja" i nošenja plakata "Ako su ti ljudi pogubljeni, pravda je mrtva u Massachusettsu".

Kasnije je Millay trebala napisati nekoliko pjesama o slučaju Sacco-Vanzetti. Najpoznatiji od njih bio je Pravda uskraćena u Massachusettsu. Njezin sljedeći svezak pjesama, Buck and the Snow (1928) uključivalo je nekoliko drugih, uključujući Vješajući hrast, Tugu, Vino od ovog grožđa i Do onih bez sažaljenja. Floyd Dell, dugogodišnji prijatelj, rekao je za nju: "Edna St. Vincent Millay bila je osoba toliko raznolikog šarma da je poznavati značilo imati ogromno bogaćenje svog života i nove horizonte ... Edna Millay trebao postati pjesnik ljubavnika. No, s nekim svojim pjesmama trebala je dati i dostojanstvo i slatkoću tom strastvenom prijateljstvu između djevojaka u adolescenciji, gdje one stoje prestravljene pred bandama koje progone carstvo odraslih muškaraca i žena ljubav, i vrati se nakratko da se zadrži u začaranom vrtu djetinjstva. Imala je dar za prijateljstvo. Ljudi pokušavaju napraviti razliku između prijateljstva i ljubavi; ali prijateljstvo je za nju imalo svu iskrenost i neustrašivost ljubavi, kao ljubav imao za nju veselost i velikodušnost prijateljstva. "

Millay je 1931. objavio, Fatalni intervju (1931) svezak od 52 soneta u čast nedavne ljubavne veze. Edmund Wilson tvrdio je da knjiga sadrži neke od najvećih pjesama 20. stoljeća. Drugi su bili kritičniji, preferirajući više političkog materijala koji se pojavio u Buck and the Snow.

Godine 1934. Arthur Ficke zamolio je Ednu St. Vincent Millay da napiše "pet uvjeta za sreću ljudskog roda". Odgovorila je: "Posao - nešto na čemu morate raditi nekoliko sati svaki dan; Garancija da ćete barem sljedeći tjedan imati barem jedan obrok dnevno; Prilika da posjetite sve zemlje svijeta, da se upoznate s običajima i njihovom kulturom; Sloboda u vjeri ili sloboda od svih religija, kako vam se više sviđa; Uvjerenje da vam se ne zatvaraju nikakva vrata - da se možete popeti onoliko visoko koliko možete izgraditi svoje ljestve. "

Millayin sljedeći svezak pjesama, Vino od ovog grožđa (1934) uključivala je izuzetan Prigovor savjesti, pjesmu koja je izrazila njezina snažna stajališta o pacifizmu. Huntsman, koji kamenolom? (1939.) također su se bavili političkim pitanjima kao što su Španjolski građanski rat i rast fašizma.

Tijekom Drugog svjetskog rata Millay je napustila svoje pacifističke poglede i napisala domoljubne pjesme poput Ne da ga poprska njegova krv (1941.), Ubojstvo na Lidicama (1942.) i Poema i molitva za svezak naslovljen Invazijska vojska (1944).

Eugen Boissevain umro je u Bostonu 29. kolovoza 1949. od raka pluća. Edna St Vincent Millay pronađena je mrtva na dnu stepenica u Steepletopu 19. listopada 1950.

U prvoj od ovih predstava bila je potrebna djevojka koja je igrala domišljatu ulogu, Anđeo upada. Kao odgovor na taj poziv, vitka djevojčica s crveno-zlatnom kosom došla je u staklenu prostoriju iznad kazališta i pročitala Annabelleine retke. Izgledala je svoj neozbiljni dio do savršenstva, i čitala je retke tako pobjednički da se odmah angažirala - uz plaću uopće ništa, što je naš umjetnički običaj. Na odlasku je ostavila svoje ime i adresu, a kad je otišla, pročitali smo ime i bili zbunjeni, jer je to bila "Edna Millay". Pitali smo se može li to možda biti Edna St. Vincent Millay, autor te lijepe i zapanjujuće pjesme, Preporod, koja je upravo ove godine objavljena u svesku njenih pjesama, pod tim naslovom, iako se pojavila u Lirska godina davne 1912. godine - nagradni pjesnički natječaj na kojem, sudeći prema onome što jesu, nije osvojio nagradu.

I doista je to bila ona. Tek što je diplomirala na Vassaru, došla je u New York tražiti slavu, ne kao pjesnikinja, već kao glumica: jer tko bi mogao očekivati ​​da će zarađivati ​​za život pišući poeziju? Imala je još jednu žicu za gudalo, budući da je bila glazbeni skladatelj. Uglazbila je neke svoje pjesme na vrlo lijepu glazbu, uključujući i svoju pjesmu, Mariposa...

Rano u našem poznanstvu, tijekom prvih proba, govorio sam o njezinoj zapanjujuće lijepoj pjesmi, Preporod, napisana s devetnaest godina; a pokazalo se da je dio toga napisan u dobi od osamnaest godina. "Ne pretpostavljam", rekla je, "da bi itko mogao reći gdje su ta dva dijela spojena." Uvjereno sam se kladio da mogu; a ona se podrugljivo kladio da ne mogu. Sljedeće večeri ukazao sam na dva retka koja su bila kraj ranijeg i početak kasnijeg dijela. Iznenađeno je priznala da sam uspjela. "Štoviše", rekao sam, "ovi prvi redovi drugog dijela napisani su kasnije od svih ostalih pjesama i zamjenjuju neke retke kojima su dva dijela izvorno spojena" - dulji odlomak ili kraći, zaboravi što sam rekao. Što god da sam rekao, doista je bilo obrnuto; ali odlomak je napisan kasnije od ostatka pjesme i zamijenio je neke ranije retke koji su spojili dva dijela. Bila je jako začuđena i pomalo zadivljena mojim začuđujućim kritičkim moćima. I sam sam bio pomalo začuđen, premda sam prethodne noći bio sasvim siguran, čitajući pjesmu u sebi i "kušajući" raspoloženje i stil i ritam njenih redaka s nekim budnim unutarnjim osjećajem, da postoje te tri vremenske podjele u pjesmi; ali to je bilo prvi put da sam svom kritičkom osjećaju postavio tako delikatan i očito težak zadatak.

Čula sam gospođicu Millay kako čita poeziju, svoju i drugu poeziju; a nikad nisam čuo tako lijepo čitanu poeziju ... Njezin recitatorski glas imao je ljupkost koja je ponekad bila potresna. Odmah sam se zaljubio u njezin glas; i s njezinim duhom, kad sam to spoznao, tako pun nesalomljive hrabrosti. Ali bilo je u njoj nečega od čega je neko stajao zadivljen - činila se, kao pjesnikinja, ne pukim smrtnikom, već božicom; i iako je nije mogao ne voljeti, volio ju je beznadno, kao što se mora voljeti božica. Možda zato što je bila nečija izgubljena mladost, bilo joj je žao i obožavao je u isto vrijeme. Usamljena, nedostižna, tragično lijepa, neljudska, udaljena i božanska kvaliteta u onoj koja je na trenutke bila uplašena djevojčica iz Mainea, a u nekim trenucima stroga besmrtnica, bila je nešto što je natjeralo sve koji su je poznavali da piše poeziju u pokušaj da izrazi to priznanje njezine ljupke neobičnosti ...

Glumila je u brojnim kazališnim predstavama u Provincetownu - naravno bez naknade - i trenutno je dobila ulogu u jednoj od produkcija Kazališnog saveza. Tamo se polagala velika nada, a kad u sljedećoj predstavi nije dobila nadani dio, plakala je poput djeteta slomljenog srca. Nastavila je pisati lijepu poeziju, a povratne listove dobivala je iz časopisa. Kasnije je hakirala neke časopise pod pseudonimom, kako bi spriječila vuka od vrata.

Uvijek kao učiteljica, kad god sam imala i najmanji izgovor, usrdno sam joj govorila o pacifizmu, revoluciji, sovjetskoj Rusiji i psihoanalizi. Bila je itekako revolucionarka u svim svojim simpatijama, i feministica cijelog srca. Inez Milholland bila je njezina heroina tijekom fakultetskih dana; taj militantni vođa borbe za žensku slobodu suspendiran je zbog šokiranog neodobravanja Vassara, ali je od tada postao njegov ponos i hvalisanje, što je trebala biti i sama Edna Millay, nakon što je suspendirana zbog nekog trivijalnog kršenja glupog pravila. Jednom sam besposleno dao Edni Millay brončani gumb koji je ostao u mojoj sobi, jedan od onih koji su dodijeljeni ženama i djevojkama koje su pretrpjele uhićenje i zatvor u kampanji za glasanje. Suze su joj navrle na oči. "Radije bih imala pravo nositi ovo nego sve što mi padne na pamet", rekla je ...

Imala je dar za prijateljstvo. Ljudi pokušavaju napraviti razliku između prijateljstva i ljubavi; ali prijateljstvo je za nju imalo svu iskrenost i neustrašivost ljubavi, kao što je ljubav prema njoj imala veselje i velikodušno prijateljstvo.

Millay je o svojim ponavljajućim glavoboljama razgovarala s psihologom. Pitao ju je: "Pitam se je li vam ikada palo na pamet da biste možda, iako toga niste svjesni, mogli povremeno imati impuls prema osobi svog spola?" Odgovorila je: "Oh, misliš da sam homoseksualac! Naravno da jesam, i heteroseksualac, ali kakve to veze ima s mojom glavoboljom?"

Edna St. Vincent Millay bila je osoba toliko raznolikog šarma da je poznavati značilo imati ogromno bogaćenje svog života i nove horizonte. Bilo je to nešto čega bi se uvijek rado sjećali. S osamnaest do dvadeset godina napisala je Preporod. Nikada jednostavna ljepota zemlje nije bila snažnije uhvaćena riječima kao u pjesmi ove djevojke: nikad ne mislim, u cijeloj poeziji.

Edna Millay trebala je postati ljubavnička pjesnikinja. No, nekim svojim pjesmama trebala je dati i dostojanstvo i slatkoću tom strastvenom prijateljstvu između djevojaka u adolescenciji, gdje one stoje prestravljene pred ulizicama koje opsjedaju područje odrasle ljubavi muškarca i žene, i okreću se natrag za dok se zadržavam u začaranom vrtu djetinjstva.

Imala je dar za prijateljstvo. Ljudi pokušavaju napraviti razliku između prijateljstva i ljubavi; ali prijateljstvo je za nju imalo svu iskrenost i neustrašivost ljubavi, kao što je ljubav prema njoj imala veselje i velikodušnost prijateljstva.

Napustimo tada svoje vrtove i idemo kući

I sjednite u dnevnu sobu.

Hoće li grmlje procvjetati ili će kukuruz rasti pod oblakom?

Kiselo do plodnog sjemena

Je li hladna zemlja ispod ovog oblaka,

Potičući nadriliječnike i korov, krenuli smo prema, ali ne možemo osvojiti;

Oštrice motike smo savili o njihove stabljike.

Idemo kući i sjednimo u dnevnu sobu.

Ne u naše doba

Hoće li oblak prijeći i sunce izići kao prije,

Blago nama

Iz svjetlucavog zaljeva,

I topli vjetrovi pušu prema unutra iz mora

Pomicanje oštrica kukuruza

S mirnim zvukom.

Očajno, očajno,

Stoji plavi stalak za sijeno kraj prazne kose.

I latice padaju na tlo,

Ostavljajući drvo bez plodova.

Sunce koje nam je zagrijalo pognuta leđa i osušilo korov iskorijenjen -

Nećemo to više osjetiti.

Umrijet ćemo u tami i bit ćemo pokopani na kiši.

Što od sjajnih mrtvih

Naslijedili smo -

Brazde slatke do zrna, a korov prigušen -

Vidite sada plijen plijesni.

Zlo ne obuzima

Štipavac i kukuruz;

Vidjeli smo ih kako prolaze.

Sjednimo ovdje, mirno sjedimo,

Ovdje u dnevnoj sobi dok ne umremo;

Na koraku Smrti u hodu, ustanite i pođite;

Ostavljajući djeci naše djece ova prekrasna vrata,

A ovaj brijest,

I pokvarenu zemlju za obradu

Sa slomljenom motikom.

Umrijet ću, ali

to je sve što ću učiniti za Smrt.

Čujem ga kako vodi svog konja iz štanda;

Čujem zveckanje na podu staje.

On je u žurbi; ima posao na Kubi,

poslovanja na Balkanu, mnogi pozivi jutros.

Ali neću držati uzdu

dok on stisne obujam.

A on se može sam popeti:

Neću mu dati nogu.

Iako me bičem udario po ramenima,

Neću mu reći kojim je putem lisica potrčala.

S kopitom na mojim grudima, neću mu reći gdje

crni se dječak krije u močvari.

Umrijet ću, ali to je sve što ću učiniti za Smrt;

Nisam na njegovoj platnoj listi.

Neću mu reći gdje se nalaze moji prijatelji

niti mojih neprijatelja.

Iako mi obećava mnogo,

Neću mu mapirati put do vrata bilo kojeg čovjeka.

Jesam li špijun u zemlji živih,

da bih trebao isporučiti ljude u smrt?

Brate, lozinka i planovi našeg grada

sa mnom su sigurni; nikad kroz mene nećeš biti nadvladana.

Kad smo stari i ove vesele vene

Jesu li mrazni kanali do prigušenog toka,

I od svih naših spaljivanja njihovi ostaci

Nema najslabije iskrice koja bi nas zapalila, čak ni u snu,

Neka nam ovo bude utjeha: da nije rečeno

Kad smo bili mladi i topli i na svom vrhuncu,

Na kauču ležimo kao mrtvi,

Spavanje uz nepovratno vrijeme.

O slatki, o teški poklopci, o ljubavi moja,

Kad jutro udari kopljem po zemlji,

I moramo ustati, naoružati nas i ukoriti

Drsko danje svjetlo mirnom rukom,

Nemojte se obeshrabriti ako znaju

Ustali smo od zanosa, ali prije sat vremena.

Posao - nešto na čemu morate raditi nekoliko sati svaki dan; Uvjerenje da ćete barem sljedeći tjedan imati barem jedan obrok dnevno; Prilika da posjetite sve zemlje svijeta, upoznate se sa običajima i njihovom kulturom; Sloboda u religiji ili sloboda od svih religija, kako želite; Uvjerenje da vam vrata nisu zatvorena, - da se možete popeti onoliko visoko koliko možete izgraditi svoje ljestve.


Edna St Vincent Millay - Povijest

Edna St. Vincent Millay: 1892-1950

napisala Holly Peppe, književna izvršiteljica

1. dio: Maine, Vassar, New York

Edna St. Vincent Millay, rođena u Rocklandu, Maine 22. veljače 1892. i odrasla u obližnjem Camdenu, bila je najstarija od tri kćeri koje je odgojila samohrana majka, Cora Buzzell Millay, koja je uzdržavala obitelj radeći kao privatna medicinska sestra . Nakon što se razvela od svog supruga 1900., kada je Millay imala osam godina, Norma šest, a Kathleen tri godine, Cora se borila da sastavi kraj s krajem, ali djevojkama je osigurala stalnu prehranu poezije, književnosti i glazbe, potičući ih, na primjer, da pišu pjesme , priče i pjesme.

Edna & mdashzvali su Vincenta od strane obitelji i prijatelja. & Mdash je bio talentiran, energičan, ponekad previše dramatičan adolescent koji je volio sate provoditi uz more i učiti imena cvijeća, biljaka i ljekovitog bilja od svoje majke. Još kao djevojčica bila je plodna spisateljica, osvajala je pjesničke nagrade za dječji književni časopis. U himni prirodi bez daha, napisala je, & ldquoOh svijet! Ne mogu te držati dovoljno blizu! Tvoji vjetrovi, tvoje široko sivo nebo! & Rdquo U srednjoj školi je pisala i glumila u školskim predstavama te uređivala školski književni časopis.

Sa 19 godina, nakon što je završila srednju školu, ali bez novca za fakultet, ostala je u Camdenu, čuvajući kuću za svoje sestre. Na prijedlog svoje majke, ušla je u dugačku pjesmu & ldquoRenascence & rdquo-107 rimovanih parova koji opisuju duhovno buđenje koje mijenja život-na pjesničko natjecanje pod imenom & ldquoE. Vincent Millay. & Rdquo Pjesma nije & rsquot pobijedila, ali kad se pojavila u Lirska godina antologije 1912. čitatelji i kritičari smatrali su je najboljom pjesmom u knjizi i svi su pretpostavljali da je autor i stariji i muški. U bilješci uredniku, drugi pjesnik u knjizi, Arthur Ficke (koji će joj postati doživotni prijatelj), pretpostavio je, & ldquoNi jedna slatka mlada stvar od dvadeset godina nikada nije završila pjesmu na kojoj ova završava: potreban je hrabar mužjak od četrdeset pet da to učiniš. & rdquo
S karakterističnom energijom i duhovitošću, odgovorila je Millay, & ldquoI jednostavno neću biti & lsquobrawny muško & rsquo. . . Držim se svoje ženstvenosti! & Rdquo

Tog ljeta, Millay je recitirala & ldquoRenascence, & rdquo gostima u lokalnoj gostionici u kojoj je Norma preko ljeta radila kao konobarica. Žena u publici, Caroline Dow, voditeljica YWCA National Training School u New Yorku, odmah je prepoznala Millay & rsquos talent i potencijal te joj ponudila pomoć pri odlasku na fakultet. Millay je bila oduševljena i odlučila se za Vassar.

Nakon što je u ljeto 1913. pohađala pripremne tečajeve u Barnardu, Millay je pohađala sve tečajeve u Vassaru i usavršavala svoje glumačke sposobnosti u predstavama i izborima, od kojih je neke sama komponirala. Voljela je proučavati klasike, ali nije voljela pravila: & ldquoVjeruju nam u sve osim u muškarce, & rdquo je napisala Fickeu. Neposredno prije mature 1917., iako su je uhvatili izvan kampusa i rekli joj da ne može diplomirati sa svojim razredom, predsjednik fakulteta u posljednji je trenutak preinačio odluku rekavši da nije želio & ldquoany mrtvu Shelley & rsquos na svom pragu. & rdquo

Nakon diplome, Millay se preselila u Greenwich Village i uživala u tadašnjem boemskom načinu života. Tu joj se pridružila i njezina sestra Norma, objavljivala je pjesme u popularnim časopisima poput sajam taštine, Ainslee & rsquos, i Forumi zbirke poezije u salvama i tankim kožnim knjigama za kojima žudi sve veće čitateljstvo. Kako bi povećala svoj prihod, objavila je kratke priče i satirične crtice pod pseudonimom Nancy Boyd. I ona i Norma također su glumile s Provincetown Players, gdje je Millay režirala jednu od svojih predstava, Aria da Capo, 1919., koja je otvorila burne kritike.

Millay je privukla voljnu skupinu ljubavnika među muškim književnicima toga doba: Floyd Dell, John Peale Bishop, Edmund Wilson i Witter Bynner, ali je odbila posvetiti se bilo kome ili bilo čemu osim svom poslu. Godine 1921., želeći dati svoju poeziju i ldquonew travu za ishranu, & rdquo je plovila dvogodišnji boravak u Europi, pod ugovorom da piše dva prozna djela mjesečno za sajam taštine kao strani dopisnik.

Godina kada se vratila u New York, 1923., označila je prekretnicu u njenom životu i karijeri: primila je novoustanovljenu Pulitzerovu nagradu za poeziju i upoznala svog budućeg supruga Eugena Boissevaina na kućnoj zabavi u Crotonu na Hudsonu u New Yorku . Na dan njihova vjenčanja, nekoliko mjeseci kasnije, Millay je bila bolesna s crijevnim problemima, pa ju je Eugen odmah nakon vjenčanja odvezao na hitnu operaciju na Manhattan. Prije zahvata, pozivajući se na svoju Pulitzerovu nagradu, rekla je: & ldquoAko sad umrem, barem ću biti besmrtan. & Rdquo

Eugen je strpljivo njegovao Millay kako bi ozdravio u Croton-on-Hudsonu i u Greenwich Villageu, gdje je unajmio usku trokatnu zidanu kuću u ulici 75 & frac12 Bedford Street. Odatle su krenuli na čitanja i osmomjesečno putovanje oko svijeta, na njihov medeni mjesec sa zakašnjenjem.

Kad su se vratili krajem 1924., Millay je bila željna iseliti se s Manhattana gdje se mogla koncentrirati na svoj posao. & ldquoNe mogu pisati u New Yorku, 'rekla je Millay novinaru. & ldquoTamo je užasno uzbudljivo i pronalazim mnogo stvari o kojima mogu pisati i skupljam mnoge ideje, ali moram otići tamo gdje je tiho. & rdquo

Drugi dio: Pjesnik na Steepletopu

U ožujku 1925. odgovorila je na oglas u New York Times za napuštenu farmu bobičastog voća na vrhu brda u Austerlitzu u New Yorku, nekoliko sati & rsquo vožnje sjeverno od Manhattana. Cijena na 435 hektara, seoskoj kući i raznim štalama i gospodarskim zgradama bila je 9.000 dolara. Millay i Eugen brzo su krenuli kako bi osigurali posao, a uskoro su kupili i još 300 hektara.

Millay je svoj novi dom nazvala "ldquoSteepletop & rdquo" po Steeplebushu ružičastog cvijeća koji je divljao na tamošnjim poljima i livadama. & ldquoTo će & rsquos biti slatko mjesto kad & rsquos završi, & rdquo je napisala svojoj majci, & ldquoi to je & rsquos naše, sve naše, oko sedamsto jutara zemlje & lijepa kuća, i nema stanarine za plaćanje, samo lijepa gospodska hipoteka za nastavak brijanja komad. & rdquo

Millay & rsquos želja za mirnim životom možda je iznenadila tisuće predanih čitatelja koji su smatrali najprodavanijeg pjesnika slobodnim duhom koji pripada Greenwich Villageu, zauvijek živeći boemskim životom koji je predstavljen u njenom kultnom četverorednom nizu:

& ldquoMoja svijeća gori na oba kraja
neće izdržati noć
Ali ah, moji neprijatelji, i oh, moji prijatelji & mdash
Daje ljupko svjetlo! & Rdquo

Za razočaranu poslijeratnu mladež koja ju je smatrala svojim glasnogovornikom za prava žena i društvenu jednakost, Millay je predstavljala buntovni duh njihove generacije. Doista, iako je favorizirala tradicionalne pjesničke oblike poput lirike i soneta, hrabro je preokrenula konvencionalne rodne uloge u poeziji, osnaživši ljubavnicu umjesto mužjaka udvarača, te je stvorila novi, šokantni presedan priznajući žensku spolnost kao održiv književni subjekt:

Ja, budući da sam rođen kao žena i u nevolji
Prema svim potrebama i predodžbama moje vrste,
Potaknuta sam vašom blizinom da pronađem
Vaša je osoba poštena i osjetite određeni polet
Da podnesem svoje tijelo & rsquos težinu na moje grudi:
. . .

Pamtit ću te s ljubavlju, ili godišnjim dobom
Moj prijezir sa sažaljenjem, da pojasnim:
Smatram da je ovo ludilo nedovoljan razlog
Za razgovor kad se opet sretnemo.

No, iako je Millay dragovoljno prihvatila svoju slavu, bila je spremna useliti se u seoski život i usredotočiti se na ono što će postati impresivno djelo koje uključuje ne samo poeziju i prozu, već i cjeloviti operni libreto. & ldquoUbrzo nakon što su se preselili u Steepletop, Millay je napisala majci i sestrama u Maineu, & ldquoOvdje smo, na jednom od najljepših mjesta na svijetu, radimo, poput Trojanaca, pasa, robova itd., s ugrađenim dimnjacima. , & amp vodovod postavljen, & amp izgrađena garaža itd. & ndash Ludi smo za tim & ndash & amp Trenutno imam na umu toliko stvari koje moram učiniti prije nego što budem sat vremena stariji, & ndash znate kako je to & ndash da jedva znam pišem li olovkom ili odvijačem. . .

Tijekom sljedećih nekoliko godina Millay i Eugen pretvorili su nekretninu u elegantno seosko imanje s cvjetnim, biljnim i povrtnjacima, gostinjskim kućama s teniskim terenom s pogledom na brda Berkshire i potopljenim vrtnim prostorom u temeljima stare štale (& ldquothe ruševine & rdquo) koja se sastoji od sedam vrtnih soba odvojenih kamenim zidovima i živicama od arborvitae. & Ldquorooms & rdquo uključivalo je bar, zajedno s kamenim klupama i fontanom, vrt ruža, iris & ldquoroom, & rdquo bazen s proljetnim hranjenjem (gdje su oni i njihovi gosti plivali u prirodi), vanjske svlačionice s toaletnim stolovima od lijevanog željeza i igralište za badminton na području zvanom Dingle, a sve je to moguće pristupiti kroz drvena vrata obješena između drveća.

Vrtne sobe bile su ukrašene umjetnošću. Suprug Norma & rsquos, Charlie Ellis, naslikao je akt koji je visio iznad šanka (koristeći automobilsku boju kako bi izdržao vremenske uvjete) i četiri drvene rondele koje su visjele na drvenim vratima koja vode do šanka, bazena i ljetnikovca. Eugen je također sagradio staju Sears & amp Roebuck, koja bi išla preko žabe, za stoku i konje. Millay je voljela jahati i imala je svog konja i sedlo.

Eugen se smatrao & ldquogentlemanskim poljoprivrednikom & rdquo i krenuo je stvoriti radnu farmu. Unajmio je majstora Johna Pinniea (koji bi desetljećima radio u Steepletopu) i nekoliko drugih ljudi koji su obrađivali zemlju i sadili povrće za potrošnju i prodaju. Također je doveo 15 djece da beru borovnice, a na kraju je angažirao i drugu pomoć za branje malina, kupina, jagoda, struka, jabuka i krušaka. On i Millay također su lovili, lovili ribu i donosili grožđe za izradu vlastitog vina koje su spremili u police u podrumu.

Millay je bila u svom elementu na brdu Steepletop, okružena prirodom, jednim od svojih glavnih izvora pjesničke inspiracije. Njene sezonske slike kreću se od tradicionalnih, kada izjednačava predzimski mraz sa smrću (& ldquoA i ti moraš umrijeti, voljena prašino & rdquo) do neočekivane & ndash & ldquoOh jeseni! Jesen! & ndash Što mi je proljeće? & rdquo (& ldquoSmrt jeseni & rdquo). U Fatalni intervju, njezin široko citirani niz od 52 soneta, smjena godišnjih doba odražava životni ciklus neuspjele ljubavne veze. Svojim predvidljivim godišnjim ciklusima života i smrti, rasta i propadanja, priroda je Millay poslužila kao organizacijski princip kako u pisanju tako i u životu.

Zatražila je malu gospodarsku zgradu u polju borovnice kao svoju pisaću kabinu, gdje joj se često pridružio njezin njemački ovčar, Altair. Kad je ta kabina izgorjela 1928. godine, dala je sagraditi drugu neposredno uz brdo od kuće, sagrađenu od neobojenih borovih ploča. Godine 1931., godine kad joj je majka umrla, okružila je kabinu s 31 bijelim borom podsjećajući je na majku i Mainea. Na brdu koje vodi do kolibe posadila je Narcissus poeticus, poznat i kao pjesnikov narcis. Unutra je namještaj bio jednostavan i funkcionalan: mali drveni stol i stolica, peć na drva, naslonjač i ležaljka.

Steepletop je bio svetište Millay & rsquos. Tamo je napisala većinu libreta za operu smještenu u Englesku iz 10. stoljeća, Kralj & rsquos Henchman, koju bi uglazbio jedan od njezinih bliskih prijatelja, skladatelj Deems Taylor. Kad se opera otvorila u Operi Metropolitan u veljači 1927. New Yorker nazvao je & ldquotnajvećom američkom operom do sada. & rdquo Doista, na premijeri je bilo 17 poziva zavjesa i 10.000 primjeraka libreta prodano u sljedećih nekoliko tjedana.

Millay je sastavila i sastavila mnoge svoje pjesničke zbirke u Steepletopu: Buck in the Snow (1928) Fatalni intervju (1931) Vino od ovog grožđa (1934) Razgovor u ponoć (1936), a prepisivanje nakon uništenja prvog rukopisa Huntsman, Koji kamenolom? (1939) Osvijetlite strelice (1940.), kao i prijevode Baudelaire & rsquos Fleur du Mal (s Georgeom Dillonom) i nekoliko dugih pjesama uključujući Ubistvo Lidice (1942.) i Pjesma i molitva za napadnutu vojsku, naručio Ratni odbor pisaca.

Dok nije pisala, Millay je sate provodila u vrtu, skupljala i prešala stotine vrsta poljskog cvijeća i, na pravi spisateljski način, vodila popise svih ptica koje je vidjela i detaljno bilježila svoje vrtlarske aktivnosti. & ldquoUčinio je sve moje plijevljenje bez uboda i zadivljujuće preplanulo, & rdquo je zapisala u svoj vrtni dnevnik i & ldquoIzvukli smo jorgovan za korijen kose !! & rdquo Ona, njezina majka i teta razmijenile su cvijeće i biljke, održavajući jedna drugu do danas o njihovom napretku. Također je sa svojim majkama i sestrama podijelila vijesti o njihovom vrtu u vrtu i rsquos blagodatima:

Ovog smo ljeta imali čudesan vrt, a haven & rsquot je kupila povrće pobogu zna koliko dugo. Reći ću vam, samo radi zabave, ono što smo imali iz našeg vrta: krumpir, kupus, cvjetaču, tikvice, grašak, grah, grah školjke, grah lima krastavce rotkvice, repu, mrkvu, bundeve, kukuruz šećer, rajčice, patlidžane, komorač, peršin, češnjak i KANTELE!

Iako je Millay tijekom odraslog života patila od crijevnih i drugih zdravstvenih problema, kad se osjećala snažno, ona i Eugen uživali su u zabavi i rodbini u Steepletopu. Za lijepog vremena priredili su zabave u baru (gdje se & ldquothe cvijeće zalijevalo ginom & rdquo) i razradili teniske turnire, zajedno s nagradama i peharima, na velikom zemljanom terenu na vrhu brda. Godine 1930. priredili su veliku trodnevnu kućnu zabavu za pedeset ili šezdeset gostiju koji su odsjeli s njima i u tri njihova prijatelja i rsquo domova u blizini. Glavna atrakcija, osim što su pili, plivali u golišavoj i drugoj zabavi, bila je predstava grupe glumaca na turneji, Jitney Players, koji su nastupili u amfiteatru koji su postavili na brdu iznad kuće.

Millay i Eugen voljeli su formalnost vođenja seoskog imanja. Dovodili su pomoć u kućanstvu koju su zvali & ldquoservant, & rdquo obično par (ponekad francuski ili švedski) koji će služiti kao kuhar i batler, te jednu ili dvije spremačice. U blagovaonici, samo nekoliko koraka preko kamenog predsoblja od kuhinje, Millay je ispod stola u blagovaonici instalirala sustav zvona kako bi mogli pozvati batlera tijekom večere prema potrebi. Slijedeći europsku tradiciju, ona i Eugen, čak i kad su večerali sami, svake su se večeri odijevali za večeru.

Kad sluge nije bilo na licu mjesta, Eugen je pripremao obroke i bavio se drugim kućanskim poslovima. Odustao je od posla s uvozom kako bi se brinuo za Millay kad su se preselili u Steepletop, vjerujući, rekao je jednom novinaru, & ldquoViše joj se isplati pisati, čak i ako ona napiše samo jedan sonet u godini dana, nego da ja budem kupovati kavu za malo i prodavati je za sitnicu više. & rdquo Njegova samoproglašena misija u braku bila je zaštititi je od zemaljskih zadataka koji bi je odvraćali od pisanja poezije, što je značilo rukovanje poslovnim detaljima povezanim s Millay & rsquos objavljivanjem poslova i čitanjem obilaske, i naravno vođenje domaćinstva.

Eugen je svoje kućanske dužnosti obavljao s dobrim duhom i povremenom hrabrošću. Tijekom njihove prve snježne zime na brdu, kad je majka Millay & rsquos boravila s njima, napisao je Ficke:

Imamo 12 tona ugljena u podrumu i 15 užadi u šupi, tri kamina, dvije peći, peć, grijač tople vode i dosta šibica. Imamo na tisuće limenki svega, ogromnu vreću krumpira, 100 kg. šećera, brašna, graha, graška, riže. S rogova visi ogromna šunka, slanina, svinjetina, hrabri pacovi, kilogrami i kilogrami kave, svježa riba smrznuta u prapovijesni fosil i koju je majka Millay oživjela u veličanstvenu riblju čorbu u Novoj Engleskoj.

This arrangement&mdashwith Eugen taking care of everything&mdashsuited Millay perfectly. &ldquoEugen and I live like two bachelors,&rdquo she said. &ldquoHe, being the one who throws household things off more easily than I, shoulders that end of our existence, and I have my work to do, which is the writing of poetry.&rdquo

The kitchen, more Eugen&rsquos domain than hers, was a typical farm kitchen with a wood burning cook stove and an icebox dependent upon blocks of ice. Steepletop did not have electricity until the late 1940&rsquos when, as Millay described in her poem, &ldquoMen Working,&rdquo she watched a crew &ldquoputting in the poles: bringing the electric light.&rdquo Soon afterward the Ženski kućni časopis offered to remodel the kitchen&mdashadding an electric stove, refrigerator, freezer and porcelain sink, in exchange for full photo coverage and a feature profile of Millay aptly called &ldquoPoet&rsquos Kitchen.&rdquo The renovation included painting the walls a fashionable sky blue and adding a breakfast nook with salmon-colored Naugahyde cushions. Millay refused to be photographed for the article, with its well-meaning but unfounded &ldquoobservations&rdquo about her domestic life. The writer claims that the poet &ldquowashes dishes and scours pots and pans,&rdquo noting &ldquoHow hard to think of the couplet to close the sonnet when there wasn&rsquot a place to put clean dishes!&rdquo And there was more: &ldquoAnd now Miss Millay can wash her woolies in this beautiful kitchen watching the birds!&rdquo

That line was certainly accurate: Millay loved birds, and in her large living room, called the &ldquowithdrawing room,&rdquo she often sat at her &ldquobird window&rdquo near the brick fireplace and admired the feathered creatures who came looking for food. &ldquoShe feeds them!&rdquo Eugen told a visitor. &ldquoShe runs a hotel for birds. She&rsquos up and at it every day before dawn.&rdquo

Opposite the bird window were two pianos placed across from one another under the careful watch of a life-size marble bust of Sappho set on a marble column in the corner. Millay delighted in playing and singing songs she had written, practicing classical pieces she&rsquod learned in early childhood, and inviting other musicians to join her in a duet, trio, or quartet. During the summer she was often joined by the pianist Blanche Bloch and her husband, the conductor and composer Alexander Bloch, who ran a music school in Hillsdale, and some of their string students. Only music rivalled her passion for poetry: &ldquoIndeed, without music I should wish to die,&rdquo she wrote. &ldquoEven poetry, Sweet Patron Muse forgive me the words, is not what music is.&rdquo

Millay&rsquos most private domain was her small library at the top of the stairs where she wrote and consulted the hundreds of research books assembled there, including a classical encyclopedia and a huge Oxford dictionary mounted on a wooden stand. The walls were lined with poetry collections in English, Italian, French, German, Italian, Latin, and Greek, and books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, many personally inscribed by authors. On a rafter in the center of the room, a hand painted wooden sign demanded &ldquoSILENCE.&rdquo

Her bedroom just around the corner, with its small white brick fireplace, also served as a study of sorts, as Millay often wrote in the mornings in longhand, sitting up in bed, after Eugen had delivered her breakfast on a tray. Some days, she would dictate poetry to him to be typed later on. Their mutual love of all things European was reflected in the large bathroom connected to the bedroom, where they had imported and installed one of a bidet. Another was installed in Eugen&rsquos bathroom, down the hall, nearer to his own bedroom and office. Their separate quarters contributed to their shared feeling that their marriage was an open one. In Millay&rsquos words, &ldquoI am just as free as when I was a girl,&rdquo and in Eugen&rsquos, &ldquoVincent and I are live like two men, bachelors, who choose their different jobs. [Yet] we study together. We play together, and it&rsquos a race to keep up with her. It makes me in love with life.&rdquo

By the late 1930&rsquos, though their devotion to one another would stay strong, their life together was about to take a downward turn. Millay&rsquos physical health was in decline, partly because of an unfortunate accident in 1936 that had left her in severe pain, which she relieved with regular, increasingly addictive doses of morphine. In 1940, as war approached in Europe, she took a strong anti-pacifist stand and published a hastily-written book of &ldquopropaganda poems&rdquo that alienated even her most supportive critics. In the years that followed, the deaths of her sister Kathleen, her beloved editor Gene Saxton, and dear friend Arthur Ficke sent her to Doctor&rsquos Hospital in Manhattan for treatment of &ldquomental and emotional exhaustion.&rdquo But the worst shock was still ahead: in 1949, Eugen, age 69, was diagnosed with lung cancer and died suddenly after surgery in Boston.

Devastated, Millay decided to live at Steepletop alone and work through her grief. She refused to see visitors and unplugged the phone because she missed hearing Eugen&rsquos voice when he answered a call. She relied on the local &ldquopostmistress&rdquo to pay her bills and answer the hundreds of condolence letters that arrived after Eugen&rsquos death, and her devoted handyman John Pinnie to care for the property and bring her mail and groceries and firewood.

She found life without Eugen difficult and lonely, but after several months, she began to fill her notebooks with lines that moved toward acceptance of her loss: &ldquoNever before, perhaps, was such a sight! / Only one sky, my breath, and all that blue! / &hellip/ Handsome this day, no matter who has died.&rdquo

Clearly Millay&rsquos intention was to rebuild her life and live on her own. A year after Eugen&rsquos death she had started working on a new book of poems and completed a Thanksgiving poem commissioned by the Saturday Evening Post. But she would never see it published. On October 18, 1950, after an evening at home proofing Latin poetry translations, she slipped and fell down the stairs to her death. She was 58.

Nju New York Times obituary reads: &ldquoCritics agreed, that Greenwich Village and Vassar, plus a gypsy childhood on the rocky coast of Maine, produced one of the greatest American poets of her time.&rdquo

The following year Norma and Charlie moved to Steepletop and Norma devoted the rest of her life to preserving and protecting her sister&rsquos legacy. In 1954 she published Mine the Harvest, a collection of unpublished poems and excerpts from Millay&rsquos journals. She also rescued unfinished poems the poet had left in her writing cabin, including these lines:

Ja hear the rain, it comes down straight
Now I can sleep, I need not wait
To close the windows anywhere.
Tomorrow it may be, I might
Do things to set the whole world right.
There&rsquos nothing I can do tonight.

A National Historic Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Steepletop is now the home of the Edna St. Vincent Millay Society. The Society&rsquos mission is &ldquoto illuminate the life and writings of Edna St. Vincent Millay and to preserve and interpret the character of Steepletop, her home and gardens, places where nature inspires the creative spirit.&rdquo

Steepletop is not currently open to visitors. Occasional events may be held, however, to raise much-needed funds. If you are interested in learning more, please consider following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel. or check back on our Events page to keep up-to-date on happenings which may interest you.


Edna St. Vincent Millay 1892 to &ndash1950

American lyrical poet and playwright. She and her two sisters were raised by her mother after her father was asked to leave the family, and they moved from town to town with very little money, but with a trunk full of classic literature. Millay, who went by the name &ldquoVincent&rdquo and was already dating women at school, began submitting her poetry to publications and competitions. Her poem &ldquoRenascence&rdquo was so well received, it earned her a scholarship to attend Vassar. While there, she continued her relationships with women, and would include lesbian undertones in the play The Lamp and the Bell which she wrote for the college. After graduating, she moved to New York City&rsquos Greenwich Village, where she was &ldquovery, very poor and very, very merry.&rdquo Joining the Bohemian art set, she began dating men as well as women, openly identifying as bisexual, and turning down a number of marriage proposals. Her poetry collection A Few Figs from Thistles received attention partially for its frankness around female sexual appetite. At 31, she married Eugen Boissevain, who shared her interest in feminism, and didn&rsquot mind an open relationship. They moved to a blueberry farm upstate called Steepletop, where Millay began gardening, while Boissevain managed and supported his wife&rsquos career. in 1923 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and in 1943 was awarded the Frost Medal for her lifetime of contributions. She continued to write and make public appearances throughout her life, and died only a year after her husband.


Edna St. Vincent Millay Biography

Edna St. Vincent Millay was born in Rockland, Maine on February 22,1892. Her parents, Cora Buzzell Millay, a nurse, and Henry Tolman Millay, who worked for a time in the insurance business, and as a teacher, divorced in 1900 when Vincent was eight.Vincent and her younger sisters spent their early childhood in the Maine towns of Union, Rockport and Camden as well as Newburyport, MA.Vincent, who had a close relationship with her mother and sisters Norma and Kathleen, was named for St. Vincent Hospital in New York City, where her uncle had received care after an accident at sea.

Called Edna by her friends, the young poet was known to her family as Vincent, the name she preferred and would use throughout her life. Although the Millay family did not have much money they did place a great value on culture and literature. Vincent eventually learned to speak six languages and also studied the piano. Vincent lived in Camden from 1903-1913 and during that time she began to make her mark in the literary field.

The young writer had an active life in Camden and belonged to several clubs including the “Huckleberry Finners (Reading Group), the “S.A.T.” (Saturday Afternoon Tea), and Genothad (Sunday School). Her family worshipped at the Congregational Church in Camden.

As a young girl, Vincent studied piano at the Cushing Mansion, under the instruction of John Wheeler Tufts. Also active in theatre, Vincent also participated in many amateur plays while residing in Camden. At Camden High School, where Vincent graduated in 1909, she was a member of the basketball team and served as the class correspondent. She was also the editor of the school publication “Megunticook.” During this time she also made several literary contributions to St. Nicholas Magazine.

When Vincent was 20, she wrote one of her most famous poems, “Renascence” which was also published in 1912 in the publication “The Lyric Year.” That same year she read this memorable piece at the Whitehall Inn in Camden. Her reading was well received by the public and this recitation was instrumental in starting her literary career.

Vincent lived in Camden until she was 20. She entered Vassar College at age 21 and graduated in 1917 with an A.B. stupanj. Vincent won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 at the age of 30 for her fourth book “The Ballad of the Harp Weaver.” This work is perhaps best known for the famous lines: “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.”

Millay and Corinne Sawyer, ca. 1909 (Camden Public Library Archives)

Millay and Corinne Sawyer, ca. 1909. godine
(Camden Public Library Archives)

“Renascence and Other Poems” was Vincent’s first published book. During her career she wrote 15 books including fiction using the pseudonym Nancy Boyd. She also wrote some dramas including work produced by the Provincetown Players on Cape Cod, MA.

The recipient of many honors and awards, Vincent received honorary degrees from Tufts College (University), University of Wisconsin, Colby College, New York University, and The Russell Sage Foundation.

In 1923 Vincent married Eugen Boissevain, a Dutch businessman. She remained in New York City most of her life, where as a feminist and political activist, she lived a Bohemian lifestyle. Boissevain was endlessly devoted to his wife and purchased Ragged Island in Maine for her in 1938. Her life on this tiny island off the Harpswell Coast was the inspiration for her poem titled “Ragged Island.” Vincent and Boissevain later settled in Austerlitz, NY, on a 700-acre farm named “Steepletop,” now a national historic landmark. Vincent died at her home in Austerlitz on October 19, 1950. She is buried at Steepletop.

The Walsh History Center collection contains the scrapbooks created by Millay’s high school friend, Corinne Sawyer. The collection also includes photos, letters, newspaper clippings, and other ephemera.


Edna St Vincent Millay - History

Built in 1892, the year Millay was born, its Victorian glories were removed by Millay to create a simple New England farmhouse. Today the house still holds all of her furniture, books and other possessions, many of which remain where they were on the day she died - October 19, 1950.

The Millay Society is committed to restoring Millay&rsquos historic home to make it an enduring legacy for future generations.

Recent improvements to Millay&rsquos historic home and grounds have been made possible through donor and volunteer support and have included: installation of new HVAC systems, extensive chimney repairs, restoration of the dining room, restoration of Millay&rsquos historic bar and reconstruction of the pergola, Restoration of the Chicken Coop, Tennis Shed and Ice House and a cataloguing of Millay&rsquos personal library (currently underway).

Steepletop is not currently open to visitors.

Millay's personal library with over 3,000 volumes

& quot. incredible addition to the cultural richness of the literary scene in the Berkshires. to survey her life through the myriads of artifacts that remain in the house, literally frozen in time, is unique.” -Olga W.

Millay's library is certainly the highlight of any visit to Steepletop. The library contains over 3,000 volumes of books ranging from potery to the classics to current novels of the period, as well as reasearch books in English, Spanish, French, German and Latin. Many of the books are personally signed by the authors to Millay.

A massive cataloguing process has been continuing over the years wih about half of the collection completed. Many of those tiles are now available to browse here.


Frank Hudson

A longish one this time. I’ll try to make it worth your while.

In the places I go it has been hard to escape Joni Mitchell and the 50-year anniversary of her breakthrough record album Plava this month. Mitchell is one of those artists like Emily Dickinson* or Thelonious Monk who people contemporaneously recognized as someone on the scene, someone whose work might appear at hand or gain mention — but then decades afterward the level of originality and importance of what they had done becomes more and more clear.

Mitchell’s Plava wasn’t immediately recognized as a classic, successful statement. Musically it’s a bit odd, even by the eclectic field of 1971 recordings. Though “singer-songwriter”** was a growing genre at the time, most of them would present their songs in a full band context on record. Instead, Mitchell’s record is spare, often just her voice and one instrument — and sometimes the instrument is a mountain dulcimer at that! She often used her voice unusually, with quick almost yodeling leaps in service of the originality in her melodic contours, and this was off-putting to some. One thing I remember about listening to Joni Mitchell LPs back in my youth was that the amount of volume in her upper register would rattle the plastic frame and enclosures of my tiny portable stereo’s speakers, producing a very unpleasant buzzing distortion.

To the degree that she was noticed in 1971, that she could be a figure who’s fame might outreach her record sales or rock critic esteem — it wasn’t just that she was a successful songwriter for others who could round-off her corners just a bit to present “Clouds (Both Sides Now),” “Woodstock,” ili “The Circle Game” to a wider audience than their author could — it was because she was known as (this gets complicated, stay with me here) as the “girlfriend” of a lot of male rock stars. This got joked about. The now infamous Rolling Stone “Old Lady*** of the Year Award” in 1971, or a joke picture of a purported Joni Mitchell LP with a song listing of: 1. Crosby, 2. Stills, 3. Nash, 4. And Young.

Do those of my generation remember that? Did you laugh? Učinio sam. That’s part of the complication, but then I believe sex is only funny when you’re risking doing it “wrong” — and it is best if it’s funny some of the time. Dead serious and entirely secret? We might as well sign up for Hrabri novi svijet industrial reproduction or efficient devices shipped in plain brown wrappers.

That said, now-a-days that 1971 behavior toward Mitchell is now viewed as belittling and a case-study in patriarchal attitudes in the “counter-culture.” Which it was. In the era’s defense I’ll say that the times were groping (should I revise that word?) toward an imperfect but different attitude toward sexual relationships. Just exactly what women would have to say about this wasn’t the first or second thing on the official list of speakers, alas.

It just so happens that Mitchell spoke up anyway, and mixed that with a kind of music which might have seemed just a bit odd or imperfect then, but now is seen as effective, important, and original.

And now it’s time to play Frank’s favorite history game. Folks are thinking about Joni Mitchell and 1971’s Plava here in 2021, but what could we see if we rebound off that 1971 time and look back 50 years from then?

Well, they do tilt their berets the opposite way. Edna St. Vincent Millay and Joni Mitchell

The poetry fans who are still with this post were wondering when I’d get to Edna St. Vincent Millay. In 1921 Millay had broken out as a young poet to watch, partly by that “being on the scene” presence in New York City in the era around and just after WWI, and by famously losing a poetry contest with a poem that many (including the contest’s winner) thought was the best of the lot. That poem was then featured in her debut book-length collection, and now it was time for the “difficult second album.” She planned that second collection to be what was to eventually become her book: Second April, a title that suggested that plan. But she was having trouble with her publisher, and eventually another collection came out ahead of it, just as the 1920’s began to roar: A Few Figs from Thistles.**** It’s a fair analogy: that book was Millay’s Blue. And like Mitchell’s Plava people noticed the author’s public persona not just the poetry. Millay became the exemplar of “The New Woman” of the 1920s, who were sometimes finding patriarchal marriage a doubtful institution, and flaunting disregard for traditional arguments financial and domestic for that. Speaking openly about erotic feelings. Creating their own art rather than settling for standby muse duties.

I’m not sure if even an incomplete list of Millay’s lovers was known to a general poetry reading public 100 years ago, and one can’t quite imagine Poezija magazine naming Millay “The Old Lady of 1921,” but the persona in A Few Figs from Thistles gave us that adventurer in love character that makes Millay and Mitchell echoing artists. But the original edition was a thin volume, chapbook length, and from things I’ve read this week it seems that Millay worried that it wasn’t substantial enough while Second April’s publication faced continued delays. A second version of A Few Figs from Thistles was hurriedly planned and issued, and some of the additions were standout poems in the collection as we now know it, such as the one I use for today’s audio piece: “Recuerdo.” Here’s a link to the full text of that poem if you’d like to follow along.

In her heyday of the 1920s Millay’s Modernist milieu and outlook wasn’t always reflected in her poetic diction. This may have helped her readership who were not yet used to, or appreciative of, free verse or other experiments in expression. Robert Frost or William Butler Yeats would also retain a poetry audience in this time with lovely metrical verse that expressed the modern condition, but Millay was (to my mind) not consistently as facile with metrical verse and more often fell back to fusty 19 th century syntax and language,***** but she could also rise above those limitations. “Recuerdo” is an example of that. It has an effective refrain expressing two contradictory and relatable emotions: “tired” and “merry.” Those emotional words are contained solely within the refrain. The rest of the poem progresses in the Modernist/Imagist style: things and events are described out of order, and in a common Modernist trope in a mixture of tones and importance. How many love poems include a phrase like “smelled like a stable?” Yes, this is largely a love poem — why it even touches on the aubade formula of the pair’s night being interrupted by the dawn — but look again: love (or sexual desire) as a word or even as a direct description is not mentioned once! Yet many readers can sense and feel the limerence of erotic love all through the poem intensely. Da je there in this objective and fragmented depiction. Remarkable!

But that absence does allow for some ambiguity. Is there some level of inconsequential going-through-the-motions experience available in a reading of this poem? Or at least some sense of transience in the experience, which after all is framed by the title which means memory in Spanish? I think that’s accessible there too. Suppose I was to present this poem by inventing a frame that imagines it was written by two drug-addled addicts hooking up for one night and to say that that emotion word “merry” in the refrain has some archaic meanings that are congruent with “high.” Same words, different effect in that frame. Or if the same poem was written with a title like “How I Met your Father.”

We do have one clue to Millay’s intent. There is an extant recording of the author reading this poem, and though it’s not very dramatic, it hints at a bit of ironic distance on the events in the poem, a sense of noting the paradoxical koan of memorable inconsequence.

Perhaps I overthink things, but the last stanza with the donation of fruit to the older woman who responds with words of gratitude was rich in ambiguity to me as well. An act of Christian charity, mixed in Modernistically with other random events and sights? Seems likely, but if I’m traipsing around tired and tipsy with my night’s hot flame and somehow, someway we’re carrying two dozen minus two each of apples and pears, their value isn’t exactly gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Is the older woman’s “God bless you” a simple expression of thanks or an implied suggestion that maybe the two younger lovers might want to kick in some spare change, which they consequently provide? Given the push-pull of political radicalism and romance in Millay’s work, can we be sure she doesn’t intend to portray something of the limits of the gesture to the old woman?

How many are thinking then that I’m an unromantic old cynic who has misunderstood and harmed this poem? Is there another group that says I’m not straightforward in my social and political analysis of the situation? Well, my fate is to be doomed to be in both states alternately and sometimes at once. That’s why I like this poem.

One knock against Millay and other New Woman poets of her time once the peak of her fresh fame wore off was that she wrote love poems, not statements about the important, complex issues facing us. Fifty years later, one knock about Joni Mitchell was that she was writing songs about two little people who don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Both of those summary beliefs are incorrect — but then, what is it you are saying: love songs are simple?

Maybe for you. Not for all of us.

The player gadget to hear my performance of Edna St Vincent Millay’s “Recuerdo” will appear below for some of you. No player to be seen? Then this highlighted hyperlink will open a new tab window and play it. My music today isn’t very Joni Mitchell-ish (though later Mitchell, much past Blue, was a bit into synths). The vocal turned out to be a “scratch track” I kept because it seemed usefully spontaneous, even though I omit a few words in the poem’s text inadvertently.

*Dickinson wrote much of her work in the 1860s, and a small group of people knew of some of it though almost nothing was published in her lifetime. I speak here of the Dickinson that existed at the turn of the century after several volumes of her poetry with regularizing edits had been issued. Today she’s taught as one of the great American poets. Back when I was in school she was a charming slight oddity that seemed to fit in with some of the small, short poems the Imagists/Modernists produced in Millay’s time.

**Years ago I wrote a humor piece where I called this 1970’s trend “Singer Sewing-Machine” artists because so much of their ethos had airs of “back to the land/rent a house in Laurel Canyon/sew hippy blouses and embroidered patches on your jeans.”

*** “Old lady” and “Old man” as in “My old lady” were usages borrowed from what were the old-fashioned/outdated terms for wedded partners. Used in the more fluid arrangements by young people in the mid-20 th century counter-culture they were supposed to be ironic statements of: partnership at least for now. Mitchell’s song on Plava “My Old Man” is an encapsulation of that moment.

****Back when I first presented a poem from that collection that so many of you liked this spring,“First Fig,” I was unaware of the origin of that book’s title. I wonder if my father who memorized Millay’s short poem but also studied to become a Christian minister in the Millay era would have known that Millay’s book title is from Jesus’ words in Matthew.

*****Her admirers can parse this as a Modernist use of older “ready-mades” which are being modified in the context of her 20 th century verse.


Edna St. Vincent Millay

In May of 1922 the Cosmos conducted a survey about hairstyles on campus, as the 'bob', women wearing their hair short, had become a recent trend. The reporter was surprised to announce that about nine percent of Coe women (33 out of 364) had cut their hair. Although this seemed to be quite a number, when the campus was surveyed less than two years later, numbers had changed to 288 of 453, or sixty three percent of the Coe women. No one quite knew the explanation for this phenomena, but one theory was the influence of Edna St. Vincent Millay, a 'bob' haired young poet who gave a reading in the Coe chapel January 24 of 1924.

Millay, described in the Cosmos as "one of the youngest and most important poets of this generation," had a unique upbringing. At the age of seven she was raised solely by her mother, who had asked her father to leave. Her mother encouraged Millay - called Vincent by her close friends - to be ambitious and continue to pursue her writing. It was because of her mother's support that Millay entered her poem "Renascence" in a poetry contest, where it placed fourth. When the poem was published in 1912, Millay was just twenty years old and received a scholarship to Vassar, graduating in 1917.

After college Millay moved to Greenwich village, where she continued to write and be involved in theatre. Her poetry and plays were controversial in may aspects, as she was a young woman in the 1920's addressing such issues as love, fidelity, erotic desire, and feminism. Much of her work was a reflection on her life as a bisexual woman, a matter she kept relatively private. In 1922 Millay published a book of poetry entitled A Few Figs From Thistles in which she describes female sexuality and puts forth the revolutionary idea that a woman has every right to sexual pleasure and no obligation to fidelity. It was in this same year that The Harp Weaver and Other Poems, another collection of her poetry, was published ad received a Pulitzer Prize. Millay was just thirty years old.

"The Ballad of the Harp Weaver," a tale of a poor son and his mother, was one of the poems that Millay read while at Coe. It is the story of a young man and his mother who have no possessions other than a harp that no one will buy. One night the boy falls asleep and dreams his mother is playing and the strings are spinning him clothes.

"And the harp-strings spoke
Her voice never faltered,
And the thread never broke,
And when I awoke, --

"There sat my mother
With the harp against her shoulder,
Looking nineteen,
And not a day older,

"A smile about her lips,
And a light about her head,
And her hands in the harp-strings
Frozen dead.

"And piled beside her
And toppling to the skies,
Were the clothes of a king's son,
Just my size."

The Cosmos described her as "charmingly naïve and quaint," and that she managed to captivate the audience "both by her dramatic interpretation and her whimsical mannerisms," thereby leaving her mark on Coe with a quiet and profound strength. And bobbed hair.

About two months after Millay spoke, the Cosmos conducted a survey of women's fashion at Coe which reported that 63 percent of Coeds were 'victim' to the bob cut. In Voorhees Hall, 95 out of 115 residents had 'been bobbed'. Kappa Delta bobbed its way to first place among the sororities of the campus twenty-two of twenty-eight members have shorn their locks. Delta Delta Delta ranks at the foot, or top of the list, according to your viewpoint, with only 15 bobbed haired members and 12 who still wear long hair. Chi Omega has 20 bobbed haired members out of a total of 30, while Alpha Theta approaches the Tri Delt standings with 15 bobbed and 10 long haired members."

The different types of bob included the fantastic Marcel, the sleek "Tut" bob, the shingle and the "Dutch" bob. This wide selection ensured there was a style of bob for everyone. This fad continued to influence women for years to come, as Dorothy Gray wrote in the Freshman Folio of March 1930

To bob or not to bob, that is the question
Whether it would be better to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous Fashion
Or to take shears against a head of troubles
And by cutting end them.

Copyright 2006
Coe College
1220 1st Avenue NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402


Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay (born on 22 February 1892) was an American lyrical poet and playwright and the third woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry . She was considered one of the most skillful writers of sonnets during the 1900s.
She was also known for her unconventional, bohemian lifestyle and her many love affairs.

“Time does not bring relief”
Time does not bring relief you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain
I want him at the shrinking of the tide
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,—so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.

This fourteen-line sonnet contained in one block of text was first published in “Renascence, and other poems” in 1917.
It is about an emotionally hurt woman, wounded by the loss of her beloved, and seeking relief from despair. But she has discovered that time does not heal pain and feels that people have lied to her when saying it would.
Her longing for her lover is ever-present and if time passes (the snow melts from the mountainside and last year’s leaves were burned ), it doesn’t touch her inner world.

In the second half of the poem, the heartbroken speaker wants to find a place where she can get some relief. This proves to be impossible since the memories of him are everywhere. Even if she goes to places he never visited , she is “stricken” with thoughts of him because she ponders the fact that he never came there.
Her feelings seem to be attached to her own being and not to a physical location.


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Date: 2018 June 25 Emmanuel Episcopal Church: The church occupies a prominent place at the southeast corner of Cathedral and Read Streets in the Mount Vernon neighborhood.

Date: 2018 July 3 Emmanuel Episcopal Church: A postcard view of the church before the construction of the Chapel of Peace along Cathedral Street in 1920. The new chapel commemorated the end of World War I.

Creator: Universal Postcards, Inc.

Date: c. 1910 Edna St. Vincent Millay: A studio portrait of writer Edna St. Vincent Millay taken a decade after she received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Date: 1933 January 14 Emmanuel Episcopal Church (2009): View of Emmanuel Episcopal Church.


Literary criticism

Newcomb, John Timberman. "The woman as political poet: Edna St. Vincent Millay and the mid-century canon." Says Newcomb, "The unfavorable criticism that has been heaped on Edna St. Vincent Millay's poetry in the mid-20th century even after her death shows the influence of critics who belittled social discourse." Criticism 37, 2 (Spring, 1995), pp. 261-279 [free at jstor]

Zellinger, Elissa. "Edna St. Vincent Millay and the Poetess Tradition." Legacy 29, 2 (2012), pp. 240-262 [preview or purchase at jstor]


Gledaj video: Edna St Vincent Millay documentary