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Product Details

  • Paperback: 816 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Second Addition edition (March 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062015273
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062015273
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.3 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950), winner in 1923 of the second annual Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, was a daring, versatile writer whose work includes plays, essays, short stories, songs, and the libretto to an opera that premiered at New York's Metropolitan Opera House to rave reviews.

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.

About the Author

Edna St. Vincent Millay was born in 1892 in Rockland, Maine, the eldest of three daughters, and was encouraged by her mother to develop her talents for music and poetry. Her long poem "Renascence" won critical attention in an anthology contest in 1912 and secured for her a patron who enabled her to go to Vassar College.

After graduating in 1917 she lived in Greenwich Village in New York for a few years, acting, writing satirical pieces for journals (usually under a pseudonym), and continuing to work at her poetry. She traveled in Europe throughout 1921-22 as a "foreign correspondent" for Vanity Fair. Her collection A Few Figs from Thistles (1920) gained her a reputation for hedonistic wit and cynicism, but her other collections (including the earlier Renascence and Other Poems [1917]) are without exception more seriously passionate or reflective.

In 1923 she married Eugene Boissevain and -- after further travel -- embarked on a series of reading tours which helped to consolidate her nationwide renown. From 1925 onwards she lived at Steepletop, a farmstead in Austerlitz, New York, where her husband protected her from all responsibilities except her creative work. Often involved in feminist or political causes (including the Sacco-Vanzetti case of 1927), she turned to writing anti-fascist propaganda poetry in 1940 and further damaged a reputation already in decline. In her last years of her life she became more withdrawn and isolated, and her health, which had never been robust, became increasingly poor.

She died in 1950.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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4 star
15%
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See all 13 customer reviews
Yet, the natural world can be that way, too.
Christian Engler
Great collection of beautiful work by Edna St Vincent Millay.
Jeanne E. Maupai
This is the best poetry book I have ever read.
becky

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Christian Engler on November 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
The Collected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay brings together poems from her best known books, including Renascence, Second April, A Few Figs from Thistles, The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems (her Pulitzer Prize winning collection) and others. The collection is a treasure trove of Millay's best work, and it can be read and reread with relish and always with new insights being gleaned.

The startling and passionate depth of Millay's vision is of the parallel between the individual and the natural and sometimes not-so natural environment, as well as to the universe and all its complexities. It is also connected to the Divine realm. However, they are not individually exclusive; they are intermixed, for the Divine can be violent and awe inspiring. Yet, the natural world can be that way, too. The individual with his or her fierceness of independence and willfulness is caught in the bewildering and tumultuous vortex of life, death and limbo. The issues that brought that person to that particular state may vary in degrees, from the loss of a loved one in the poem "Interim" to defiance of life and the Divine in "Suicide" to a whole lot of others. The lyrical flow of the poems makes them almost come off as flowery and light. However, there is a heavy undercurrent of uncertainty, rage, resentment and violence that shine through the "prettiness" and the fluidity of the language. It can catch readers off guard, because when you reread them and understand what lies beneath the surface, a whole new comprehension develops that there was something far more agonizing and serious that was the catalyst for why the poems were originally written.

There is a lyrical beauty in all the poems, but there is also a savage tumultuousness, even a bleakness, to some extent.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By JohnP on January 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Edna St.. Vincent Millay was a turn of the century poet who did most of her best work in the mid-to-late 1920's and was quite the romantic in spirit and in through her poetry. Fond of her garden and all the varieties of flowers growing therein she focused on life and death of all living things. Unfortunately, for those of us who become easily depressed, she also focuses on the "autumn" years, elegies to dead friends, and poems of lost loves. But then that's the "romantic" (Rousseauian) part of her soul.
Beautifully done in many forms of meter, perhaps her best work, about 96 sonnets, are at the book's end, and allow for one to delve at will into the thoughts of a very loving and sensitive lady. I wish she were still here today. Not the same as our Maya Angelou, but of a different era, and just as clever with words and meanings as Maya. A good read, if a bit long in its collection/compendium of all of her works
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By becky on October 22, 2013
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This is the best poetry book I have ever read. The sonnets are awesome. This book is so beautiful I read it over and over. Edna St Vincent Millay is just the best!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Erika Houck on March 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love the poetry; I've worn out one set of separate paperbacks of the lyrics and sonnets, and one of this collection; have the third on my shelves. Five stars for the content, at least.

That said, this is rife with typos. It looks like a poorly-done OCR scanning with no proofreading whatsoever. Very very irritating, and tends to knock me out of the poem when it happens.
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By Sally Howes on January 21, 2014
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What I know about poetry could fit on the head of a pin, so this is not intended as any kind of learned review. The fact I know so little about poetry but still chose to read this book (yes, from cover to cover), however, is a testament to the poet. I had read a handful of her sonnets a few years ago, and one in particular haunted me and has never lost its grip on me. I think it's safe to say that it may be my favorite poem ever. So it was because of this poem that I chose to read Edna St. Vincent Millay's entire collected works - and I am so glad that I did.

I have been toying with reading a biography of Millay, but in a way, I hardly need to now. Reading COLLECTED POEMS: EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY was like reading the poet's own memoirs. From the opening lines, I was engrossed in her world and learned so much about her, especially about her love and yearning for nature, her brief as well as her enduring affairs of the heart, her conflicted religious views, her abhorrence for the wastefulness of war, her passion for life, and her equal and opposite preoccupation with death. Of course, in reading a book of poems, I should have been prepared for it to evoke and challenge my own emotions, but I was not quite prepared for the emotional roller coaster ride I would go on, starting from the very opening lines. I ran the whole gamut from laughter to contemplating my own mortality - all within the first few dozen pages.

Being ignorant, as I said, I am not qualified to comment much on poetic form, but it seems to me that this body of work covers almost every form imaginable, from simple rhymes to the freest of free verse.
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I have had the paper edition of this anthology for many, many years. We are moving and downsizing, so I got the Kindle edition and am giving the paper book to a dear friend, whose copy of it was lost under tragic circumstances along with many of her other possessions. I am actually happy to have it on Kindle, so that I can carry it with me wherever I go (the paper version is quite heavy). Reading a Millay poem or two while waiting for the doctor or the hairdresser or the optometrist is a great pleasure indeed!
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