Thursday, August 5, 2010

Eight Sonnets - III - Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 - 1950) didn't live long enough to see the feminist movement of the 60s, but conducted her life with the integrity of being her own person in a time when most women could not and did not, thus serving as a great role model for those that followed.  Born in Maine, "Vincent" (as she was called by friends) parlayed an early poem, with encouragement from her mother, into a scholarship to Vassar.  It was off-to-the-races then to a literary life as a poet and playwright in New York City, to Greenwich Village where she lived on the brink of poverty but with great zest.  Her fourth volume of poetry garnered a Pulitzer in 1923.  She continued writing poetry (and plays) for the rest of her career and was widely known through the many public readings she gave.  Though openly bisexual, "Vincent", was in an open marriage until her husband of twenty-six years died a year before her own.  This sonnet, the third in a group of eight, has always intrigued me by how it is set up.
Eight Sonnets


I know I am but summer to your heart,
And not the full four seasons of the year;
And you must welcome from another part
Such noble moods as are not mine, my dear.
No gracious weight of golden fruits to sell
Have I, nor any wise and wintry thing;
And I have loved you all too long and well
To carry still the high sweet breast of spring.
Wherefore I say: O love, as summer goes,
I must be gone, steal forth with silent drums,
That you may hail anew the bird and rose
When I come back to you, as summer comes.
Else will you seek, at some not distant time,
Even your summer in another clime.

                                                                                        Edna St. Vincent Millay

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