Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950) was the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. I love her poetry. Reading her poems always makes me feel good. Even if she is talking about death! It’s just the way she puts things, the way she writes. So lyrical and yet accessible. The emotions her poetry elicits are immediate. You will never ask how you are supposed to feel. A smile just forms across your lips.
Enjoy this one!
I, Being Born a Woman and Distressed
I, being born a woman and distressed
By all the needs and notions of my kind,
Am urged by your propinquity to find
Your person fair, and feel a certain zest
To bear your body’s weight upon my breast:
So subtly is the fume of life designed,
To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind,
And leave me once again undone, possessed.
Think not for this, however, the poor treason
Of my stout blood against my staggering brain,
I shall remember you with love, or season
My scorn with pity, – let me make it plain:
I find this frenzy insufficient reason
For conversation when we meet again.
– by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Utterly delicious! Millay uses the familiar words of sexual conquest, words often used to the disadvantage of women. And she co-opts the classic, sexist woman/man conflict of passion vs brains, ‘my stout blood against my staggering brain”, she is both. She yields but to herself. And then she exits, gloriously,
You can find out more about her and other poets at Poets.org, operated by the Academy of American Poets.
Have you read any poetry by Edna St. Vincent Millay? How do you assess her writing?