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One of America’s most celebrated poets—and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1923—Edna St. Vincent Millay defined a generation with her passionate lyrics and intoxicating voice of liberation. Edited by Millay biographer Nancy Milford, this Modern Library Paperback Classics collection captures the poet’s unique spirit in works like Renascence and Other Poems, A Few Figs from One of America’s most celebrated poets—and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1923—Edna St. Vincent Millay defined a generation with her passionate lyrics and intoxicating voice of liberation. Edited by Millay biographer Nancy Milford, this Modern Library Paperback Classics collection captures the poet’s unique spirit in works like Renascence and Other Poems, A Few Figs from This-tles, and Second April, as well as in “The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver” and eight sonnets from the early twenties. As Milford writes in her Introduction, “These are the poems that made Edna St. Vincent Millay’s reputation when she was young. Saucy, insolent, flip, and defiant, her little verses sting the page.”


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One of America’s most celebrated poets—and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1923—Edna St. Vincent Millay defined a generation with her passionate lyrics and intoxicating voice of liberation. Edited by Millay biographer Nancy Milford, this Modern Library Paperback Classics collection captures the poet’s unique spirit in works like Renascence and Other Poems, A Few Figs from One of America’s most celebrated poets—and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1923—Edna St. Vincent Millay defined a generation with her passionate lyrics and intoxicating voice of liberation. Edited by Millay biographer Nancy Milford, this Modern Library Paperback Classics collection captures the poet’s unique spirit in works like Renascence and Other Poems, A Few Figs from This-tles, and Second April, as well as in “The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver” and eight sonnets from the early twenties. As Milford writes in her Introduction, “These are the poems that made Edna St. Vincent Millay’s reputation when she was young. Saucy, insolent, flip, and defiant, her little verses sting the page.”

30 review for The Selected Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Florencia

    Sorrow Sorrow like a ceaseless rain Beats upon my heart. People twist and scream in pain, — Dawn will find them still again; This has neither wax nor wane, Neither stop nor start. People dress and go to town; I sit in my chair. All my thoughts are slow and brown: Standing up or sitting down Little matters, or what gown Or what shoes I wear. American poet, playwright, Pulitzer Prize for Poetry winner and feminist activism, Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) was an influence on another poet I find Sorrow Sorrow like a ceaseless rain Beats upon my heart. People twist and scream in pain, — Dawn will find them still again; This has neither wax nor wane, Neither stop nor start. People dress and go to town; I sit in my chair. All my thoughts are slow and brown: Standing up or sitting down Little matters, or what gown Or what shoes I wear. American poet, playwright, Pulitzer Prize for Poetry winner and feminist activism, Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) was an influence on another poet I find utterly fascinating. "I was following in the exquisite footsteps of Miss Edna St. Vincent Millay, unhappily in my own horrible sneakers," Dorothy Parker wittily lamented once, according to an article published on BBC Culture. All things considered, I just had to take a look at Millay's work. This collection mostly includes poems from Renascence and Other Poems, A Few Figs from Thistles, and Second April. May 20, 19 I think my expectations were too high. I prefer Parker, undoubtedly. Even though certain themes are timeless and the raison d'être of poetry, everything felt more repetitive in Millay's verse, especially considering a somewhat dramatic tone that I often find difficult to overlook. Additionally, I'm not fond of poems that occupy four pages; paraphrasing Poe, such length is the antithesis of poetry's nature. Paraphrasing this humble reader, my attention span simply dies. There were some poems whose traditional structure made me yearn for the last line. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to connect with most of them. I did, however, appreciate her playful rhymes; without such musicality, I would have never finished the entire collection. May 25, 19 * Later on my blog.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rowena

    These were lovely poems, pleasant to read and with easy interpretations. Some of her poems about death had a very Sylvia Plath feel to them. Most of the poems had nature elements. She described her love for the great outdoors in great detail. I want to go run around in a meadow now :)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    My first time reading anything by Edna St. Vincent Millay, and this collection of poems was more than enough to get a good sense of what she was all about. Lots of Variety in the poems, including the afterlife and nature, and she captured various moods that shifted about as I worked my way through. The Sonnets were the highlight for me, but some other favourites were - The Dream Journey Elegy Before Death Song of a Second April Alms The Little Hill Exiled The Poet and his Book Ode to Silence

  4. 5 out of 5

    David

    Everything in life seems to me to be ephemeral, always passing, changing, transforming. Nothing stays the same, nothing lasts. We live in a very narrow slice of infinity, and in our mind we explode every moment of that slice to something enormous, something of incomprehensible significance. We analyze every glance and turn of phrase, we plan our days and weeks and months and five-year plans, and our retirements which we may never reach. We are always sad to let things go, it does not come natura Everything in life seems to me to be ephemeral, always passing, changing, transforming. Nothing stays the same, nothing lasts. We live in a very narrow slice of infinity, and in our mind we explode every moment of that slice to something enormous, something of incomprehensible significance. We analyze every glance and turn of phrase, we plan our days and weeks and months and five-year plans, and our retirements which we may never reach. We are always sad to let things go, it does not come naturally to us. We cling and hold fast to the things we love, even cling to pains that have become dull, for fear of new, harsher hands which may play upon us. And yet we paradoxically love the idea of new things. New cars, and the excitement of new romances and new cities, travels to new places, discovering new books. "Death is the mother of beauty" said Wallace Stevens, which is to say that nothing beautiful is eternal, that we are only moved by the knowledge that what is will never be the same again. Like a photograph caging a moment of beauty into something of forever, so to does a poem capture that slice of dying Time forever. For Edna St. Vincent Millay, there is perhaps no god in her poetry if not the omnipotence and unconquerable god of Time. She is acutely aware of the passing of time, of the passing of loves, the passing of moments, like ships at sea. As soon as a moment buds, it has stepped closer to decay. As soon as a love is forged, it is one day closer to rust. This seems to be a very cynical view of the world, that all is always dying, that nothing lasts, and nothing is certain but death and ruin. But aren't we moved by ruins? We are not moved by cities, not by skyscrapers nor apartment buildings which climb high into the sky and bustle with inmates and house-cats going about their dailies. What moves us are the ruins past, where no one lives, the Pompeiis of the world which echo with ghosts, of unsolved mysteries and goings-on which have long been dulled by the crawl and recession of time. Like sand on the beach always being drawn away, inch by inch, so too does time pull back on the present, transforming it into the past. What once was ugly to us becomes beautiful in the nostalgic distances of the past - for it was always beautiful, but beauty requires distance. If the only paradises are paradises lost, then too are the only beauties lost beauties. Millay is hyper aware of the beauty in passing things, in transient things, in dying things. THE FIRST rose on my rose-tree Budded, bloomed, and shattered, During sad days when to me Nothing mattered. Grief of grief has drained me clean; Still it seems a pity No one saw,—it must have been Very pretty. We hear recurrent in Ms. Millay's poetry this seeming ambivalence towards loss and grief, this acceptance that the best things of yesterday have already depreciated immeasurably in time. She knows that we don't appreciate beauty when it is present, beauty "buds, blooms" when "nothing matters" - when we can't appreciate it, when it is too close, when we take it for granted, when we are still aspiring for better. And it shatters before we even see that we were happy. We are much better at grief than gratitude. So much beauty goes unseen by us because we do not give it attention, we do not think of our happiness; but we are wallowers in grief. Grief seems to us an ocean; happiness, beauty, a lightning-flash. We are comforted by the endless vastness of the oceans of grief, their expected tempos and waves of emotion, which threaten imminently to topple us over, to wreck us. We see the flashes of beauty only peripherally, we never seem to catch them head-on, we are never ready with our cameras, and even when we do they never seem quite right captured. We look back on moments of great beauty, and think they "must have been very pretty" - but we did not think so when we had them, when our rose bushes were blooming just outside our windows, on days we kept the windows shut so that bees wouldn't come in, or the wind wouldn't disrupt the pages on our desks. Yes, they must've been very pretty. Perhaps the cruelest truth in love, in beauty, is that we withhold it from ourselves. We are citadels of grief, keeping out happiness, and hemming ourselves in with our evasions and defenses. We do not want to risk being struck by lightning. We do not take chances, we vouchsafe our lives to the wavering seas of time, bobbing up and down like corks on the waves, never secured in our happiness, but never, too, sunk completely, always in flux. We hurt ourselves with our own pride, we refuse to be subservient to the idea of love, we champion ourselves as worthy of love, but hold ourselves too highly. We never give up our whole hearts, and so instead we lose them piece by piece. Thus when I swear, "I love with all my heart," 'Tis with the heart of Lilith that I swear, 'Tis with the love of Lesbia and Lucrece; And thus as well my love must lose some part Of what it is, had Helen been less fair, Or perished young, or stayed at home in Greece. While this is a lovely collection, to anyone interested in Millay's poetry, I would rather recommend her Collected Poems, as they include a broader selection of her poetry, and more specifically consolidate all (or at least most of) Millay's sonnets, which are her strongest and most poignant.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I have great difficulties with poetry. At first, it was because I was a member of the "roll your eyes and hold your nose" contingent as regarded pretty much the entire art form. Except Shakespeare, don't you know, because I was a cultured little thing, and well- how couldn't I? That reason changed when all of a sudden, I encountered a poet I loved. And irony of ironies, he was one of the major roll your eyes poets even for people who could enjoy poetry- Byron. I just loved it- but it didn't have I have great difficulties with poetry. At first, it was because I was a member of the "roll your eyes and hold your nose" contingent as regarded pretty much the entire art form. Except Shakespeare, don't you know, because I was a cultured little thing, and well- how couldn't I? That reason changed when all of a sudden, I encountered a poet I loved. And irony of ironies, he was one of the major roll your eyes poets even for people who could enjoy poetry- Byron. I just loved it- but it didn't have anything to do with appreciation for craft. I connected to it on a deeply selfish, personal level- so much of his writing is so appropriate for teenagers. I could just live in his ridiculous yearnings and affectations, because they were mine as well- even if I was embarrassed for him, I recognized so much of it in myself. From there I loved Shelley, I loved Tennyson, I loved pieces of Dickinson here and there. But I was very very picky, very dependent on transient moods, and a very very unsophisticatd reader of poetry- and that's the stage that I remain at today. I'm very capable of scornfully laughing something out the door without a second thought that I would have loved yesterday, and I even do this to my favorites. I am cruel to poets- for some reason, I'm willing to give novelists and playwrights a lot more leeway. Which is probably why I'm somewhat conflicted about my feelings on Edna St. Vincent Millay. This particular edition chronicles her juvenalia into the writings of approaching (what was for the time) middle age. I had expected to grow with her and like her writings progressively more as she went along- but I did not find that to be the case. I loved her first collection of works, Resanance and Other Poems,, some of them written in her teens, and published before she was in her mid-twenties. "Resanance," exactly suited my mood- the story of a troubled girl on a seemingly perfectly innocuous day who imagines herself dead to escape the world... but cannot ultimately face the prospect. It was perfect for what I needed- an expression of incredible love for life, someone depressed enough to want to die, but too enthralled with life to be able to. Like in that Fellini film- with the girl at the end who has just been fucked over by life and men again and you think she's going to do something awful to herself... but then there are these kids playing, and she's smiling. Corny, but I love it, and I needed that. I also loved "Interim," the story of the survivors of death and clash of the Big Ideas and Facts of Life with the everyday mundane and how ridiculous it seems to do /anything/ that isn't epic when such things have happened to you. She has many other poems along these lines, and I adored all of them, even if they were just smaller echoes of things that had been expressed before. By contrast, I really did not like the majority of Second April. Millay definitely always had a flower child sensibility about her (despite being raised in the 'teens, not the sixties). And I mean this very literally as at least half her poems mention flowers in some way, and if its not flowers, she's marveling about some other wonder of nature. Now, I have no problem with this generally, and sometimes I find it very sweet. There's a poem called Exile that is really about nothing else but the yearning for home- all she wants is to smell the water again. I can appreciate that. However- Second April feels like a girl who got too high on herself and went to Greenwich Village, and wrote poems to impress the people there with how rebellious and idealistic and well educated (waaaay up with the classical references in this one) she was. It did not feel geniune in the least. Even her nature poems often felt twee- like she was looking for the wonder she was once able to write with, and not able to find it. I can understand this to a certain degree, and I'm certainly at an age where I can still remember that- but I don't admire it, I shudder to think of it, and being embarrassed for it isn't helping me appreciate it more. I can understand it in a distant, historical context way- WWI had just ended, the atmosphere was thick with political statements and heady with the sorrow that lead to jazz age ridiculousness. It just feels like a pose of a girl- or a girl too stereotypical for me to even want to know. A Few Figs was better, quieter, more consistent. Less with the references to being out all night, more of a return to the subjects that first fascinated her. Still a bit more pretentious, but I'll let that pass. After all, I do like Byron, and she does harken back to 19th century styles to a certain degree. Actually, I think that's my favorite part about Edna St. Vincent Millay. Perhaps this is to do with one of my historical fascinations (the echoes of the Old World that always linger), but I love how she's one of the writers straddling the old world and the new- the techniques of the Victorian era were still being taught, still being revered, and yet, entirely modern sentiments were being expressed in "thees" and "thous," that clank up against your ear in a startling and charming way, being used to say things that one has trouble believing they would ever intend to express. I just loved the sound of it, the spirit of it, and that gave me another way into understanding it. I will revisit several of these poems again- they are inspiring, with beautiful images to hold onto and remember when they are needed. Thank you to everyone who recommended this collection to me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    mwpm

    From Renascence... 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! - Afternoon on a Hill, pg. 23 * * * Love, if I weep it will not matter, And if you laugh I shall not care; Foolish am I to think about it, But it is good to feel you there. Love, in my sleep I From Renascence... 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! - Afternoon on a Hill, pg. 23 * * * Love, if I weep it will not matter, And if you laugh I shall not care; Foolish am I to think about it, But it is good to feel you there. Love, in my sleep I dreamed of waking, - White and awful the moonlight reached Over the floor, and somewhere, somewhere, There was a shutter loose, - it screeched! Swung in the wind, - and no wind blowing! - I was afraid, and turned to you, Put out my hand to you for comfort, - And you were gone! Cold, cold as dew, Under my hand the moonlight lay! Love, if you laugh I shall not care, But if I weep it will not matter, - Ah, it is good to feel you there! - The Dream, pg. 33 * * * Thou art not lovelier than lilacs, - no, Nor honeysuckle; thou art not more fair Than small white single poppies, - I can bear They beauty; though I bend before thee, though From left to right, not knowing where to go, I turn my troubled eyes, not knowing where to go, I turn my troubled eyes, nor here nor there Find any refuge from thee, yet I swear So has it been with mist, - with moonlight so. Like him who day by day unto his draught Of delicate poison adds him one drop more Till he may drink unharmed the death of ten, Even so, inured to beauty, who have quaffed Each hour more deeply than the hour before, I drink - and live - what has destroyed some men. - Sonnets I, pg. 40 From A Few Figs from Thistles... 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! - First Fig, pg. 49 * * * Why do you follow me? - Any moment I can be Nothing but a laurel-tree. Any moment of the chase I can leave you in my place A pink bough for your embrace. Yet if over hill and hollow Still it is your will to follow, I am off; - to heel, Apollo! - Daphne, pg. 62 From Second April... To what purpose, April, do you come again? Beauty is not enough. You can no longer quiet me with the redness Of little leaves opening stickily. I know what I know. The sun is hot on my neck as I observe The spikes of the crocus. The smell of the earth is good. It is apparent that there is no death. But what does that signify? Not only under ground are the brains of men Eaten by maggots. Life in itself Is nothing, An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs. It is not enough that yearly, down this hill, April Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers. - Spring, pg. 75 * * * No matter what I say, All that I really love Is the rain that flattens on the bay, And the eel-grass in the cove; The jingle-shells that lie and bleach At the tide-line, and the trace Of higher tides along the beach: Nothing in this place. - Eel-Grass, pg. 86 * * * April this year, not otherwise Than April of a year ago, Is full of whispers, full of sighs, Of dazzling mud and dingy snow; Hepaticas that pleased you so Are here again, and butterflies. There rings a hammering all day, And shingles lie about the doors; In orchards near and far away The grey wood-pecker taps and bores; The men are merry at their chores, And children earnest at their play. The larger streams run still and deep, Noisy and swift the small brooks run Among the mullein stalks the sheep Go up the hillside in the sun, Pensively, - only you are gone, You that alone I cared to keep. - Song of a Second April, pg. 96 From Sonnets and Ballad Harp-Weaver... When you, that at this moment are to me Dearer than words on paper, shall depart, And no more the warder of my heart, Whereof again myself shell hold the key; And be no more - what now you seem to be - The sun, from which all excellences start In a round nimbus, nor a broken dart Of moonlight, even, splintered on the sea; I shall remember only of this hour - And weep somewhat, as now you see me weep - The pathos of your love, that, like flower, Fearful of death yet amorous of sleep, Droops for a moment and beholds, dismayed, The wind whereon its petals shell be laid. - Sonnet, pg. 149 * * * “Son,” said my mother, When I was knee-high,
 “You’ve need of clothes to cover you, And not a rag have I. “There’s nothing in the house To make a boy breeches, Nor shears to cut a cloth with Nor thread to take stitches. “There’s nothing in the house But a loaf-end of rye, And a harp with a woman’s head Nobody will buy,”
 And she began to cry. That was in the early fall. When came the late fall,
 “Son,” she said, “the sight of you
 Makes your mother’s blood crawl,— “Little skinny shoulder-blades Sticking through your clothes! And where you’ll get a jacket from God above knows. “It’s lucky for me, lad, Your daddy’s in the ground, And can’t see the way I let His son go around!” And she made a queer sound. That was in the late fall. When the winter came, I’d not a pair of breeches Nor a shirt to my name. I couldn’t go to school, Or out of doors to play. And all the other little boys Passed our way. “Son,” said my mother, “Come, climb into my lap, And I’ll chafe your little bones While you take a nap.” And, oh, but we were silly For half an hour or more, Me with my long legs Dragging on the floor, A-rock-rock-rocking To a mother-goose rhyme! Oh, but we were happy For half an hour’s time! But there was I, a great boy, And what would folks say To hear my mother singing me To sleep all day, In such a daft way? Men say the winter Was bad that year; Fuel was scarce, And food was dear. A wind with a wolf’s head Howled about our door, And we burned up the chairs And sat on the floor. All that was left us Was a chair we couldn’t break, And the harp with a woman’s head Nobody would take, For song or pity’s sake. The night before Christmas I cried with the cold, I cried myself to sleep Like a two-year-old. And in the deep night I felt my mother rise, And stare down upon me With love in her eyes. I saw my mother sitting On the one good chair, A light falling on her From I couldn’t tell where, Looking nineteen, And not a day older, And the harp with a woman’s head Leaned against her shoulder. Her thin fingers, moving In the thin, tall strings, Were weav-weav-weaving Wonderful things. Many bright threads, From where I couldn’t see, Were running through the harp-strings Rapidly, And gold threads whistling Through my mother’s hand. I saw the web grow, And the pattern expand. She wove a child’s jacket, And when it was done She laid it on the floor And wove another one. She wove a red cloak So regal to see,
 “She’s made it for a king’s son,” I said, “and not for me.” But I knew it was for me. She wove a pair of breeches Quicker than that! She wove a pair of boots And a little cocked hat. She wove a pair of mittens, She wove a little blouse, She wove all night In the still, cold house. She sang as she worked, 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 up beside her And toppling to the skies, Were the clothes of a king’s son, Just my size. - The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver, pg. 156-160

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joshie

    I have always been fond of Edna St. Vincent Millay's sonnets. It all started with Love Is Not All one evening whilst looking for something to read before going to bed. I knew then I had to seek more of her works. This sonnet is not included in this collection however but the ones that are have strengthened that fondness by a mile. To discover she was openly bisexual also sheds a new light upon her works; subtly some of them hints on same-sex relationships. Regrettably, I find rhyming poetry a li I have always been fond of Edna St. Vincent Millay's sonnets. It all started with Love Is Not All one evening whilst looking for something to read before going to bed. I knew then I had to seek more of her works. This sonnet is not included in this collection however but the ones that are have strengthened that fondness by a mile. To discover she was openly bisexual also sheds a new light upon her works; subtly some of them hints on same-sex relationships. Regrettably, I find rhyming poetry a little tiring these days that amidst her playfulness, creativity, sarcasm, humour, and wit — whilst fastening a lot of themes within the breaks and spaces between her vivid words enough to draw a memory or evoke a sense of a thousand emotions be it the departure of autumn, death at your fingertips ("Mine is a body that should die at sea! And have for a grave, instead of a grave Six feet deep and the length of me, All the water that is under the wave!") or the painful warfare of longing ("Searching my heart for its true sorrow, This is the thing I find to be: That I am weary of words and people, Sick of the city, wanting the sea;" and "My heart is warm with the friends I make, And better friends I'll not be knowing, Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take, No matter where it's going.") and a heartbreak ("My heart is what it was before, A house where people come and go; But it is winter with your love, The Sashes are beset with snow." and "And what are you that, wanting you, I should be kept awake As many nights as there are days With weeping for your sake?") — has turned off my enjoyment overall. Despite this personal gripe of mine there's no question hers are one of the best rhyming poetry I've read so far in comparison to W.H. Auden's whose poetry collection I haven't finished yet due to them being twice as taxing although Funeral Blues and O Tell Me The Truth About Love (funny little thing how this one involves nose-picking) have always been my personal favourites. For all of us ageing: "Was it for this I uttered prayers, And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs, That now, domestic as a plate, I should retire at half-past eight?" — GROWN-UP As a side note, I dearly liked these: Indifference, Time does not bring relief; you all have lied, If I should learn, in some quite casual way, The Dream, I shall forget you presently, my dear, MacDougal Street, Passer Mortuus Est, Travel, Exiled, Grown-up, Recuerdo, Thursday, Ebb, We all talk of taxes, and I call you friend, Alms, and I know I am but summer to your heart.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nadine Jones

    Millay is one of my favorite poets, and this is actually a book I bought for my daughter, but I picked it up and read from it while waiting for my library hold to become available. It's a lovely selection of her work, starting with the famous Renascence, through First Fig, Second Fig, Recuerdo, and so on - it also includes many sonnets.

  9. 4 out of 5

    El

    I'm really not all that great with poetry yet. I think that if I know enough about a poet's personal life that I will have a better appreciation for their poetry. This may or may not be true, but this is sort of my first experience of trying that out, reading two biographies about Millay while reading this selection of poetry on the side. Knowing more about the author helps in one way - I know what was going on when she wrote certain poems, how old she was, possibly what was going on in the world I'm really not all that great with poetry yet. I think that if I know enough about a poet's personal life that I will have a better appreciation for their poetry. This may or may not be true, but this is sort of my first experience of trying that out, reading two biographies about Millay while reading this selection of poetry on the side. Knowing more about the author helps in one way - I know what was going on when she wrote certain poems, how old she was, possibly what was going on in the world (though most of her poems had more to do with herself than anything else, until later in her years). On the flip-side of the same coin, knowing more about the author hurt in some ways - I knew what she was writing as she got on in years, what she was doing to herself and her body, her obsessions with certain people - all of which likely took its toll on her writing. When you look at the first poem in this selection, "Renascence" [sic], and you read it with the knowledge that she was 19 when she wrote it, you have a greater appreciation for the skill and genius of Millay. I'd give five stars to that poem alone. But as she got older, that genius just wasn't there in the same way. I attribute that mainly to her addiction - there's no way that being on as much morphine as she was in her later years (compounded by the excess of alcohol she drank and the slew of other medications she put in her body) didn't affect her mind. This is evidenced in Nancy Milford's Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay where her time spent detoxing in hospitals were written in great detail. Her poetry in later in years was hit-or-miss for me. Some of them are lovely, but others tend to ramble and be vague and essentially uninteresting. However, she led a difficult and often sad life, and that does come across in her writing, for better or for worse. At times in a selection like this it starts to drag a bit, and that's even when I would read only one or two poems an evening before picking up where I left off in one or both of the biographies. Some of her poems are so short that it's easy to read a couple of pages and wind up having read four poems. Not the worst poetry I've read, and there are one or two of pure genius ("Renascence" being probably one of my all-time new favorite poems EVAH), but the rest left me feeling probably as cold as her insides felt on all that freaking morphine.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jillian

    I picked this up because I came across a snippet of one of Millay's poems somewhere (can't remember now of course): 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! When I read this, I swamped with work, correcting papers, and choreographing/directing a musical. And those four little lines managed to make me nod my head, smile to myself, and think, "Oh yes. I know exactly what she means." So of course, I scurried over to my librar I picked this up because I came across a snippet of one of Millay's poems somewhere (can't remember now of course): 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! When I read this, I swamped with work, correcting papers, and choreographing/directing a musical. And those four little lines managed to make me nod my head, smile to myself, and think, "Oh yes. I know exactly what she means." So of course, I scurried over to my library and picked up a selection of Millay's poems. Of course, not all of the poems spoke to me, but many of them did. I don't usually read a book of poetry from cover to cover, but I had no problem with this little volume. In fact, I forced myself to read it slowly so that I'd have time to savor and reflect on each poem. For fans of poetry, I'd recommend this--there are definitely some gems in here.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Noah Goats

    From the precocious power of Renascence to the sentimental but surprisingly effective Ballad of the Harp Weaver, this collection contains one great poem after another. As far as I’m concerned, Millay is one of American literature’s greatest poets, and these lovely and witty poems show why.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kaion

    I am a little irate that this volume turned out not to be the promised Selected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay, but instead should be titled "Poetry by Edna St. Vincent Millay That Happens to be in the Public Domain". Namely, this consists of the entirety of her first three collections Renascence and Other Poems, A Few Figs From Thistles, and Second April; as well as "The Ballad of the Harp Weaver" and additional sonnets from American Poetry, 1922: A Miscellany. There is something I find perp I am a little irate that this volume turned out not to be the promised Selected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay, but instead should be titled "Poetry by Edna St. Vincent Millay That Happens to be in the Public Domain". Namely, this consists of the entirety of her first three collections Renascence and Other Poems, A Few Figs From Thistles, and Second April; as well as "The Ballad of the Harp Weaver" and additional sonnets from American Poetry, 1922: A Miscellany. There is something I find perpetually girlish about these poems, for all their claims of deathly romance and pretensions of classical timelessness. Millay is best as a poet of summer, effusive and energetic (and fond of those exclamation points). I think I like her best when she embraces the playfulness of language, of rhythm and rhyme, over her proclamations of loss and love. Rating: 2 stars (Renanscence and A Few Figs are particularly sparse in interest, and I admit a disinterest in the sonnets altogether. Second April is the early collection to pursue here.) My picks: "The Singing-Woman from the Wood's Edge", "Journey", "Inland".

  13. 5 out of 5

    Allison Long

    I don't know too much about Edna St. Vincent Millay, but the more I read about her, the more I'm intrigued. I have always adored her poem 'First Fig', so I set out to read more of her poetry. 'Selected Poetry' consists of both flippant verses and those obsessed with death (no really, there is some morbid stuff there). The language is beautiful and sad because so much of it has fallen out of favor with more contemporary styles. 'Selected Poetry' makes you wonder when reading poetry fell out of fa I don't know too much about Edna St. Vincent Millay, but the more I read about her, the more I'm intrigued. I have always adored her poem 'First Fig', so I set out to read more of her poetry. 'Selected Poetry' consists of both flippant verses and those obsessed with death (no really, there is some morbid stuff there). The language is beautiful and sad because so much of it has fallen out of favor with more contemporary styles. 'Selected Poetry' makes you wonder when reading poetry fell out of favor and want to start a movement to bring it back again.

  14. 5 out of 5

    nicholas

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

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andy Oram

    This is a fine selection from four books, mostly early in Millay's career. Famous for her sonnets, she also showed intriguing skills with free verse and many styles in between. She occasionally went for an easy rhyme, but her syntax is always cleverly invented to convey a meaning beyond the individual words, which are usually very simple and sometimes in a fetching American colloquial that reveals her modern feminine irony ("A ghost in marble of a girl you knew / Who would have loved you in a da This is a fine selection from four books, mostly early in Millay's career. Famous for her sonnets, she also showed intriguing skills with free verse and many styles in between. She occasionally went for an easy rhyme, but her syntax is always cleverly invented to convey a meaning beyond the individual words, which are usually very simple and sometimes in a fetching American colloquial that reveals her modern feminine irony ("A ghost in marble of a girl you knew / Who would have loved you in a day or two"). Millay's themes include love lost (or casually discarded), death, love of nature, and evocations of classical times.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Adam Ferrell

    The best sonnet writer since Shakespeare. Many of the poems in this book have changed my vocabulary, my way of thinking, and my definition of literary beauty.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Audra (Unabridged Chick)

    This slender volume is perfect for those unfamiliar with Millay -- it contains her most well-known pieces -- as well as those who are devoted fans -- it's the perfect size for carrying around and dipping into as needed!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I love Millay's poetry. Her engagement with the natural world, her rather cynical view of romance, her moments of grace and grief, all speak to me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Ivy (SundressSecrets)

    Head on over to my Instagram at instagram.com/samanthaivyyyy for reviews Head on over to my Instagram at instagram.com/samanthaivyyyy for reviews

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Koppelkam

    At first I was like "nah, Edna, you use way too many exclamation points and you're way too reverent" but then I got sucked in by the biting, fiercely independent voice lurking beneath the first few poems of this collection. Then Edna reveals herself with poems like "Thursday": "And if I loved you Wednesday, Well, what is that to you? I do not love you Thursday - So much is true. And why you come complaining Is more than I can see. I loved you Wednesday, - Yes - but what is that to me?" Edna St. V At first I was like "nah, Edna, you use way too many exclamation points and you're way too reverent" but then I got sucked in by the biting, fiercely independent voice lurking beneath the first few poems of this collection. Then Edna reveals herself with poems like "Thursday": "And if I loved you Wednesday, Well, what is that to you? I do not love you Thursday - So much is true. And why you come complaining Is more than I can see. I loved you Wednesday, - Yes - but what is that to me?" Edna St. Vincent Millay: the original Millenial, 100 years too soon. My favorite in the collection is "Witch-Wife"

  21. 5 out of 5

    Richard Smith

    I've been tidying up the list of 50 or so books that I'm supposedly "currently reading," and the terrible thing is that I am "currently reading" most of them, although so intermittently that I'm stretching the definition of "currently reading" beyond usefulness. But this book of poems by Edna St Vincent Millay I certainly did finish, seven years ago. She was once the most famous poet in America, giving readings to 20 000 people with her distinctive voice. Now she's out of fashion. She's unashame I've been tidying up the list of 50 or so books that I'm supposedly "currently reading," and the terrible thing is that I am "currently reading" most of them, although so intermittently that I'm stretching the definition of "currently reading" beyond usefulness. But this book of poems by Edna St Vincent Millay I certainly did finish, seven years ago. She was once the most famous poet in America, giving readings to 20 000 people with her distinctive voice. Now she's out of fashion. She's unashamedly romantic, a follower of Shelley. Love and death, the great themes, are her themes, and I like her poetry very much. I return to it often.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca N. McKinnon

    I wanted to read a library copy of her work before I delved into a first edition of hers that was gifted to me by someone dear. Some of these poems didn't do much for me, but a great deal of them blew my mind. A lot of them I re-read over and over, in awe at her talent for transporting me into imagery and emotion. Some made me sorrowful, at how truly she understood and articulated grief. Some made me squeal and laugh, to think of a feminist of her time being so upfront, so brazen about relations I wanted to read a library copy of her work before I delved into a first edition of hers that was gifted to me by someone dear. Some of these poems didn't do much for me, but a great deal of them blew my mind. A lot of them I re-read over and over, in awe at her talent for transporting me into imagery and emotion. Some made me sorrowful, at how truly she understood and articulated grief. Some made me squeal and laugh, to think of a feminist of her time being so upfront, so brazen about relationships and desire. Tbh I would totally send "Thursday" to some fuckbois I know. Bravo, Edna.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina

    I first fell in love with her poetry because of a sonnet in a collection of poems that had been featured on the London Underground. That sonnet is a part of this collection, included with its accompanying sonnets. She makes me laugh and want to cry. Occasionally she makes me want to roll my eyes, but I forgive her because then she’ll write something so evocative, it’s like someone took an image straight from my heart and wrote it on the page.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lara Selavka

    This was my long-awaited return to poetry (I hadn't picked up a collection of poems since college, nearly a decade ago). Her earlier pieces have a very dreary, New England tone to them that I immediately loved. And as mentioned in other reviews, she relies heavily on nature, and our eventual return to it upon death. I am delighted to have picked this as my foray back into the world of poetry!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gen

    I find I'm mostly alone on this but I feel a distance between me and poetry like it's too personal for me to view no matter where I'm seeing it or how much I enjoy it. Millay's words completely betray this feeling, I understood and gushed over the poems. I borrowed a copy of this from the library but it looks like I'm definitely buying I need this on my shelf

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    It's been a while since I've enjoyed a book of poetry this much! I would strongly recommend this to anyone who wants to read some poetry but is looking for something a little more down to earth. My favorite poems: Tavern, Sonnet VI: Bluebeard, First Fig and Second Fig, The Blue-Flag in the Bog, Travel

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lynsy

    Oh, Modernism, old friend - how I've missed you and your whackadoodle self. I liked quite a few of these poems, but sometimes they felt a bit sing-songy to me, which I'm not a fan of. I think Millay can come off as overly dramatic at times (well, she is a poet). I wish there were more poems in her oeuvre like "The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver." Read my full review here. Oh, Modernism, old friend - how I've missed you and your whackadoodle self. I liked quite a few of these poems, but sometimes they felt a bit sing-songy to me, which I'm not a fan of. I think Millay can come off as overly dramatic at times (well, she is a poet). I wish there were more poems in her oeuvre like "The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver." Read my full review here.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth StClair

    I think I've found my new favorite poet! I try to mark my favorite poems in every book, but it was so hard to choose only a few favorites from this one. Will definitely give this one another read soon.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carlton Moore

    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!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    ok but sonnets are so amazing??

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