|Photo: Carl Van Vecten|
Edna Millay was the first poet with whom I fell in love. I discovered her at 19 when I bought a paperback of her poems, and I would lay on my cot with its brown wool blanket, in a barracks in Germany, and read her lyrics and sonnets over and over, memorizing several of them. I had not been a good student during 12 years of schooling in Mentone, Indiana, but Edna Millay turned out to be an excellent teacher. Through paying attention to her, I began to notice her precise punctuation; she was like Dylan's Louise who makes it all "too concise and too clear," and I picked it up easily. My love for Millay has been constant for all these close-to-sixty years.
i couldn't pick a favorite sonnet, but if I could it might be XLVII from Fatal Interview:
Well, I have lost you; and I lost you fairly;
In my own way, and with my full consent.
Say what you will, kings in a tumbrel rarely
Went to their deaths more proud than this one went.
Some nights of apprehension and hot weeping
I will confess; but that's permitted me;
Day dried my eyes; I was not one for keeping
Rubbed in a cage a wing that would be free.
If I had loved you less or played you slyly
I might have held you for a summer more,
But at the cost of words I value highly,
And no such summer as the one before.
Should I outlive this anguish -- and men do --
I shall have only good to say of you.
|Photo: Walter Skold|