Edna Millay Essay, Research Paper
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. 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.