Edna Millay

Edna Millay Edna St. Vincent Millay defied the times in which a woman was to operate, in her life style, and in her poems, “Renascence”, “My candle burns at both ends”, and “I forgot in Camelot, the man I loved in Rome.” She was one of the best known poets of the 1900’s. Her poems were said to be delicate but outspoken (World book 1968). While in school in addition to being an exceptional student her teachers also considered her to be a particularly bad student, because teachers would give lectures and she would interrupt asking acute questions. Overall, Millay was a very odd lady for her time (Gurko 59).

This was because she was a “free woman”, which was a symbolic figure in the late 18 and early 19 hundreds (American Writers 123). “Taking advantage of this liberated atmosphere, Millay became one of its leading voices, she wrote saucy and slightly scandalous lyrics in a style that occasionally evoked Elizabethan verse (Anderson 665).” Millay received awards and honors in the twenties, thirties, and forties. Her reputation was over after her death by interest in poetic modernism, which emphasized formal experimentation and innovation. Even former acolytes, such as Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath said “Edna Millay is so old fashioned, the lord should’ve made her a man (Davidson 542).” Millay has endured and has been advanced recently by critics interested in the style of her traditional poetic forms (Davidson 541). Her poetry was very standard and showed evidence of critical concentration to rhyme and established metrical patterns.

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The poem “Renascence” re-established Millay’s individual identity through her willingness to accept her own limitations and to be bound to the world surrounding her (World book 1968). In this poem, Millay scans the grounds within her view. She sees three mountains and woods surrounding her. Turning, she sees three islands. Having made a full circle, she, in a sense of being exhausted sees the scope of her perception, and has organized the limitations she is prepared for the self-induced trance which will take her to the limits with nature (Davidson 524). She showed this in the first few lines of “Renascence” when she wrote: All I could see from where I stood, Was three long mountains and a wood: I turned and looked another way, And saw three islands in a bay (Rollens 692).

When Anne Sexton read this poem she was certain it was written by a man because of Millay’s wording style. The poem has an abab rhyme pattern, and is a lyrical poem. “My candle burns at both ends” is a brief poem by Millay that has an autobiographical image of herself. The daring and independent lines reflect the charm and energy of Millay. The poem reflects an optimistic outlook and a pessimistic outlook, imagination and aggressiveness, a gentle spirit and a harsh spirit.

This poem makes vivid intensity of her living: 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 792) Mary Kinzal, a known critic said that Millay’s poems and dreams were “To live fully, alertly, and originally (Gurko 61).” This poem like many others of Millay’s has an abab rhyme pattern and is lyrical. In Millay’s ” I forgot in Camelot the man I loved in Rome” is a poem Millay wrote that had a spirit of liberation and independence. The poem conveys the spirit and the theme of Millay’s early poetry. Millay wrote the poem after her escape from serious, permanent commitments because she decided to be an independent woman with all the freedoms she wanted. While writing this poem Millay decided to move from where she was living to regain her freedom and stability again and to move herself from the man she had fallen in love with.

She expresses her feelings in this abcdc rhymed poem by saying: There must be a place for me, To think no more of you, I am going far from home, For I forgot in Camelot, The man I loved in Rome (Rollens 329). As a result, from Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poems she did in fact defy the times in which a woman was to operate, in her life style, and in her poems. She showed in her lifestyle, her longing to be independent, and in her poems such as “Renascence”, “My candle burns at both ends”, and “I forgot in Camelot the man I loved in Rome” she displayed how she felt.