On searching for more of her work, I discovered what an interesting woman she was and thought GREAT! A FreeVerse* AND an Inspirational Women Wednesday** post all in one.
First for one of her poems which I particularly liked.
Doubt no more that Oberon—
Never doubt that Pan
Lived, and played a reed, and ran
After nymphs in a dark forest
In the merry, credulous days,—
Lived, and led a fairy band
Over the indulgent land!
Ah, for in this dourest, sorest
Age man's eye has looked upon
Death to fauns and death to fays,
Still the dog-wood dares to raise—
Healthy tree, with trunk and root—
Ivory bowls that bear no fruit,
And the starlings and the jays—
Birds that cannot even sing—
Dare to come again in spring!
Edna was born in February 1892. An American poet and playwright, she was the first woman to win the PULITZER PRIZE FOR POETRY.
Brought up in a singe parent household (her parents divorced when she was 12 which I should have imagined was quite scandalous at that time) Edna and her sisters, owing to their mother's (Cora's) financial situation, moved from place to place, always travelling with a trunk of classical literature including the works of William Shakespeare, relying on the kindness of both family and friends.
Finally settling in Maine, Cora taught her daughters to be independent and to speak their minds which, as you can probably imagine, didn't always sit well with others.
In was during her high school years that Edna (preferring to be called Vincent) began really nurturing her literary talents, starting a school magazine and eventually having some of her poetry published - and all by the age of 15 - though it wasn't until five years later, aged 20, that her career really took off.
Quite the independent young woman, Edna had several relationships with both men and women (imagine the scandal this would have caused) before finally marrying in 1923. However even this caused quite a stir as Edna and her husband had what is referred to as an 'open marriage' both partners having sexual relationships with other people.
Career wise, Edna went from strength to strength. Winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 for THE HARP-WEAVER and Other Poems though her reputation was damaged by the poetry she wrote in support of the allied war effort during the Second World War.
Also awarded the FROST MEDAL for her lifetime contribution to poetry in 1943 (only the second wowan to do so), Edna died 7 years later, in October 1950. Found dead at the bottom of the stairs, it was clear she fell to her death but the cause of the fall is unknown.
So what is it I find so inspirational about Edna St. Vincent Millay? Certainly not her private life. I find it inspiring that a woman living at this time who came from such an impoverished background was raised to be an individual, a person in her own right. The fact the her family obviously held books and knowledge in such high esteem also inspires me as does the fact that Edna went on to achieve such wonderful things as becoming the first woman to receive such a prize as the Pulitzer.
* FREEVERSE is a weekly meme hosted by CARA at Ooh ... Books! Whilst ** Inspirational Women Wednesday is hosted by AINE at The Evolving Spirit.
For more reading on Edna click HERE, OR to view her other poetry click HERE