Edna St.Vincent Millay

1892-1950

 

Edna St. Vincent Millay is buried in the Steepletop Cemetery, Austerlitz, Columbia County, New York, USA.

 

Gravestone of Edna St. Vincent  Millay
Photograph by Mark Pepe

After studying at Vassar, Millay moved to Greenwich Village and lived the life of an impoverished writer. During this time she had a number of affairs with both men and women (including the novelist Floyd Dell.)

In 1923 Millay married Eugen Boissevain - the widower of Inez Milholland. Although their marriage was an open one, it  lasted for 26 years. Millay had a number of affairs while married - including one with George Dillon who was  fourteen years her junior.  Her relationship with Dillon inspired her to write her 52-sonnet sequence Fatal Interview (1931). She later went on to translate Les Fleur du Mal by Baudelaire with Dillon.

In total Millay published 17 collections of poems, including The Ballad of Harp-Weaver (1923) which won her the Pulitizer Prize for poetry. (She was the first female poet to achieve this distinction.)

Edna St.Vincent Millay

Millay's poetry was  particularly concerned with love, sorrow and feminine revolt. Her work was very explicit for its time  - see poems such as What lips my lips have kissed....' and My Candle Burns at Both Ends'. Millay had a good grasp of traditional verse and meter forms and was especially adept at sonnets.

In 1944 Millay suffered a  nervous breakdown and was cared for by Boissevain. However, the strain of caring for her caused his own health to decline and he died in 1949. Millay was devastated and died, herself, one year later while sitting at the foot of her staircase in her house at Steepletop.

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;

from Time Does Not Bring Relief

 

 


 

 

 
 
 
 

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