Essay On Renascence By Edna St. Vincent Millay


Edna St. Vincent Millay was known for her lyrical poetry and her use of verse to give a powerful voice to her feminist activism. She was a very brilliant poet but her work was deemed too rebellious to have a higher and university level education. But this didn't discourage her from writing and winning prizes for her poetry. Not only this Edna also started her career in poetry at only 14 years old. Edna had a radical formal style in her writing with traditional meter and rhyme schemes. One of her most well-known poems was “Renaissance” which she read at Whitehall Inn in Camden and was embraced for her recitation. Edna was without a doubt one of the most rebellious activists of her time using poetry to speak up about relatable topics many experienced.

Edna St. Vincent Millay was born on February 22, 1892, in Rockland, ME. She was one of three sisters in her house and lived with her divorced parents for many years. Young Edna liked to be called Vincent but her teacher at Camden Highschool refused to call her Vincent, instead, she would call her by whatever girl's name that started with a V. In reality, she was a very gifted high school student and that is where she began her literary ascent. She started with her school's magazines which heightened her poetry skill and knowledge. When she was only 14 she won the St. Nicholas badge for poetry, only a year later publishing her poetry in the children's magazine Saint Nicholas, the Camden Herald. Developing her writing skills over the years she earned a reputation for mastering verse drama and intricate, emotional poetry. While refusing many suitors that held her back from writing her free-spirited poems. 

In her long career writing many successful poems, she wrote one that I am particularly fond of, “The Ballad of the Harp”.  The poem was written in 1923 and was a  Pulitzer prize-winning collection. The poem shows the everlasting bond between mother and child and the beauty of compassion for loved ones. I also really enjoyed this poem because of how many people can relate to the poem. Enda talks about a family who is poor and the child's clothes are worn and torn. The mother in the poem tries very hard to provide for her son while sacrificing her wellbeing. As Christmas approaches the mother knows there is not enough money so she spends all night working to make her son's clothes. He sees her knitting tirelessly and nonstop to provide for him. In the morning there was a bounty of coats, hats, and galoshes fit for a king but all for the little boy. Many people will never have to experience the feeling that the family has felt but many have. Whether you have experienced this similar situation or not, everyone can relate in some way. Enda gives the reader a chance to look into a world of a struggling poor family, this gives many a chance to feel a glimpse of what struggling families feel. 

Edna St. Vincent Millay gave new meaning to poetry by talking about important subjects in her work. Although many were not ready for her poetry at the time she didn't stop talking about women's rights and other controversial topics. She changed many people's views and opinions but most importantly, she let people know about these topics through writing. Like the poem “The Ballad of the Harp'', it is sad to think people go through this but the way she wrote made it seem less sad and gave the reader a lesson to learn from. The lesson I took away was it doesn't matter how much stuff you have it just matters how much love you have for your family. As long as you have someone who cares for you it doesn't matter how hard life gets because you can always count on them to care for you just like the little boy did. These few lines she wrote changed the way I thought along with so many other poems. This is why she was rebellious, this is why she was an activist. She was able to change the way people thought and felt with her formal radical style. She also gave many comfort knowing there was someone as well known as her who cared about women's rights. The comfort of being able to read an elegant and powerful poem puts many struggles into a beautiful poem.

Many will never read Edna’s books and poetry but those who do will be able to feel the emotion she brings to each word she writes. Being able to read only a few of her poems I can see why she was to rebelois for her time. It was because she made her points and talked about what little people would. I think she really made an impact on others not only in the 1900’s but now, where her poetry resonates with many people. Giving them hope and the chance to feel like they are being heard.

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