Edited by Millay biographer Nancy Milford, The Selected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay also includes the collections A Few Figs from Thistles and Second April, as well as "The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver" and eight of Millay’s sonnets from the early twenties.
In 1917, "Renascence" was incorporated into her first volume of poetry, which is reprinted here, complete and unabridged, from the original edition. The 23 works in this first volume are fired with the romantic and independent spirit of youth that Edna St. Vincent Millay came to personify. In addition to "Renascence," this volume includes 16 other early lyric poems — "Interim," "Sorrow," "Ashes of Life," "Three Songs of Shattering," "The Dream," "When the Year Grows Old," and others, including six sonnets, to which Millay brought great distinction throughout her career.
Millay infused new life into traditional poetic forms, bringing new hope to a generation of youth disillusioned by the political and social upheaval of the First World War. She ventured fearlessly beyond familiar poetic subjects to tackle political injustice, social discrimination, and women's sexuality in her poems and prose. In the 1920s and '30s, Millay was considered a spokesperson for personal freedom in America, particularly for women, and we turn to her lines to illuminate the social history of the period and the Bohemian lifestyle she and her friends enjoyed.
Yet Millay's poetry is still decisively modern in its message, and it continues to resonate with readers facing personal and moral issues that defy the test of time: romantic love, loss, betrayal, compassion for one another, social equality, patriotism, and the stewardship of the natural world.
Collected Poems features Millay's incisive and impassioned lyric poetry and sonnets, many of which are considered among the finest in the language, as well as the poet's last volume, Mine the Harvest, compiled and published in 1956 by her sister Norma Millay.
Their brilliance undimmed by the passage of time, these gemlike verses continue to dazzle poetry lovers. This new anthology represents the quintessential Edna St. Vincent Millay, comprising 67 poems from two of her most popular works, A Few Figs from Thistles and Second April. Its contents include such well-known and much-studied poems as "Recuerdo" and "The Philosopher," along with an abundance of sonnets, a genre in which the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet excelled.
The perfect introduction for those as yet unacquainted with one of the most distinctive voices of 20th-century poetry, this volume also offers a high-quality, inexpensive treasury of favorite Millay works for devotees of her verse.
This volume includes the early poems that many consider her best— “Renascence” and “The Ballad of the Harp Weaver” among them—as well as such often-memorized favorites as “What lips my lips have kissed” and “First Fig” (“My candle burns at both ends . . .”). The poet’s most famous verse drama, the one-act antiwar fable Aria da Capo, is included here as well.
Millay's first three books of lyrics and sonnets are collected here: Renascence, Second April, and A Few Figs from Thistles. With a balanced and appreciative introduction and useful annotations, this volume presents some of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet's best work in which she weaves intellect, emotion, and irony.
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From the Trade Paperback edition.
Renascence and Other Poems was Millay's first collection of poetry, a literary sensation when it was published in 1912. Acclaimed by critics for its remarkable use of compelling language and imagery, it is a deeply personal work that reflects the poet's spiritual awakening, using the themes of death and resurrection. In contrast, the poetry in A Few Figs from Thistles represents a cynical stage, a time of rebellion, and a search for personal freedom, as depicted in her famous line, "My candle burns at both ends." Part beauty, part despair, the free verse and heartfelt sonnets of Second April are an expression of Millay's feelings about love and disillusionment. Eloquent, daring, and sometimes bittersweet, these masterful lyrics exemplify the best work of a complex, passionate, and gifted poet.