Jul 21, 2010

Wednesday Women- Edna St Vincent Millay

Edna St Vincent Millay was born on Feb 22 1892 in Rockland Maine to Cora Lounella (Buzzelle) Millay and Henry Tollman Millay after her mother divorced her father, the family finally settled in Camden Maine.This is where she wrote many of her poems that would become famous.
She had red hair and gray-green eyes..and insisted on being called Vincent.

Vincent and her sisters, Norma and Kathleen, were encouraged by their
mother, Cora, to indulge in many artistic genres..and as well as childhood freedoms.....
fueled the artistic imaginations of the girls in literature, music and theater.

At 20, she entered a poetry contest with her poem, Renascence. At first, the poem was discarded for being too simple but after a second look by a
judge was awarded 4th place in the contest. Some of the winners even offered her their prize money because they thought the poem was the best Caroline Dow, a wealthy woman heard Vincent recite some of her work, became her benefactor and paid for her education at Vassar College

It was during her college years she won the Pulitzer Prise for Poetry for the
Harp-weaver and other Poems...the first time for a woman...
Renascence and other Poems and Then a Few Figs
from Thistles along with the Harp-Weaver were all
published while she was at Vassar.

She moved to Greenwich village after graduation. She live her life as a Bohemian in the same way she had at college . She was open sexually having affairs with both men and women.
Eventually her Bohemian lifestyle caught up with her and she struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction.

Her marriage to Eugen Jan Boissevain was an open one.

Vincent and Eugen moved to farm in New York which they named
Steepletop and this is where they lived out their lives.

I read it one night many years ago
while sitting by the wood stove on a very cold night in Maine...
It was the poem that began my interest in Vincent. '

Her most well-known poem though is
First Fig:

"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!"

Protesting a death sentence in Boston

Eugen died of lung cancer in 1949 and Vincent in Oct 19 1950 of a possible heart attack as she was found at the bottom of the stairs with a broken neck. Some think she died from a broken heart and loneliness after the death of Eugen. ....but no one knows for sure what really happened to Vincent in those final moments.

The statue of Vincent located in Camden, Maine.

My husband and I rode up to Camden one day to see it and after looking for it quite a while, we finally asked what happened to it. One of the locals told us the statue was moved to the far back of the park. Some of the out-of state residents, who come up for the summer, thought it was ugly.....so they town moved it. Much to the dismay of the locals. This was a daughter of Camden who made Maine proud... It should have never been removed.
I did not find it ugly and I was thrilled to see it.

I have posted some websites and the book on Vincent's life which is an excellent read...Once again I hope I have tweaked your interest in the talented woman...

Thanks for joining me for Wednesday Women.


A Life said...

Linda, I can not thank you enough for this post. Many years ago I had a close older friend who was an artist in New York the same time "Vincent" lived there. They all hung out together. He had delightful stories of the Village and living as a free spirit. As soon as I am back home I will be digging up some of her words. Thanks Laife

Linda said...

Thanks for enjoying it..She is an amazing woman...I will look forward to your blog about her...I hope things are going well for you...I am sure you will be happy to return to your home again...I can't imagine being driven from your home because of the despicable recklessness of others...

My good thoughts and prayers are with you..

A Life said...

Linda, I have been on vacation in Wisconsin with family and friends. We did not have to leave because of the oil. I am sure some people in south Louisiana needed to leave their homes but that did not include my family and friends. I will return soon.

New Orleans is a strong city, but who really knows the long term effect of the oil! Thank-you for your concern and prayers. The Gulf Coast needs all it can get. Laife

Linda said...

I am glad to hear that...I hope you are enjoying your vacation...

I pray that things can be corrected but we will have to see how BP comes through...It is hard to watch all of it..:(

Take care and enjoy the North...

Get lots of inspirations for your paintings:)


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