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edna edna edna edna

So I don't know if Al is doing spotlight anymore, but I am doing my poetry thing, so here it goes.

I am currently reading Savage Beauty, the biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay, celebrated early 20th century American poet, Vassar grad and idol of Cara (hi). I first became aware of this book when we were flying either to or from Phoenix and I stole it from Cara while she slept and read like half a chapter. What an interesting, colorful life this woman left! And the biographer previously wrote about crazy bitch/pre-Courtney Love Zelda Fitzgerald, so you know she has experience in this area. RIP Zelda. I found it again last week on one of my trips to the library and now am reading it and it is huge and also interesting. But it's really big. Like dictionary big.

This woman was so big during her lifetime she used to give regular radio readings of her work on a weekly basis. People used to crowd to see her speak. She was a role model for young women, seriously. Can you imagine Maya Angelou rousing the same interest today? I guess not. I feel like I really missed my time era.

A noted editor who loved her work and then her (she was like that) memorized her sonnets (most famous form she used? CARA FEEL FREE TO PROVE ME WRONG) in the shower and would recite them. Here is a sample of her work (this poem was also really, really, really big):

Only her shadow once upon a stone
I saw,—and, lo, the shadow and the garden, too, were gone.

I tell you you have done her body an ill,
You chatterers, you noisy crew!
She is not anywhere!
I sought her in deep Hell;
And through the world as well;
I thought of Heaven and I sought her there;
Above nor under ground
Is Silence to be found,
That was the very warp and woof of you,
Lovely before your songs began and after they were through!
Oh, say if on this hill
Somewhere your sister's body lies in death,
So I may follow there, and make a wreath
Of my locked hands, that on her quiet breast
Shall lie till age has withered them!

(Ah, sweetly from the rest
I see
Turn and consider me
Compassionate Euterpe!)
"There is a gate beyond the gate of Death,
Beyond the gate of everlasting Life,
Beyond the gates of Heaven and Hell," she saith,
"Whereon but to believe is horror!
Whereon to meditate engendereth
Even in deathless spirits such as I
A tumult in the breath,
A chilling of the inexhaustible blood
Even in my veins that never will be dry,
And in the austere, divine monotony
That is my being, the madness of an unaccustomed mood.

This is her province whom you lack and seek;
And seek her not elsewhere.
Hell is a thoroughfare
For pilgrims,—Herakles,
And he that loved Euridice too well,
Have walked therein; and many more than these;
And witnessed the desire and the despair
Of souls that passed reluctantly and sicken for the air;
You, too, have entered Hell,
And issued thence; but thence whereof I speak
None has returned;—for thither fury brings
Only the driven ghosts of them that flee before all things.
Oblivion is the name of this abode: and she is there."


Her most notable accomplishment is being the first woman to receive the Pulitzer for poetry.

You can find her reading her works on youtube. WHAT A VOICE. she was very involved of the politics of her day, as demonstrated in the borrowed photo above (I was not there) where she was demonstrating against Sacco and Vanzetti (pre-Rosenbergs).

onwards!

Comments

  1. SWOOOOOOOON

    and you're right on the money with everything.

    and if you have to return the book before you finish it, I have the much less dictionary-esque paperback edition.

    ReplyDelete
  2. score!!!!

    I probably will not be able to finish it. so we can swap spit or POF stalkers or something in exchange.

    ReplyDelete
  3. the pulitzer is so hot right now

    ReplyDelete

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