Edna St. Vincent Millay quotes

Edna St. Vincent Millay photo
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Edna St. Vincent Millay

Birthdate: 22. February 1892
Date of death: 19. October 1950
Other names: إدنا سانت فنسنت ميلاي, ادنا سنت وینسنت میلی, Една Сент-Вінсент Міллей

Edna St. Vincent Millay was an American poet and playwright. She received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923, the third woman to win the award for poetry, and was also known for her feminist activism. She used the pseudonym Nancy Boyd for her prose work. The poet Richard Wilbur asserted, "She wrote some of the best sonnets of the century." Wikipedia

Works

A Few Figs from Thistles
A Few Figs from Thistles
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Renascence
Edna St. Vincent Millay

„My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But, ah, my foes, and, oh, my friends —
It gives a lovely light.“

—  Edna St. Vincent Millay, book A Few Figs from Thistles

Misattributed
Source: Edna St. Vincent Millay, in "First Fig" from A Few Figs from Thistles (1920); said to be a motto Roald Dahl lived by.

„Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.“

—  Edna St. Vincent Millay

Sonnet XXX from Fatal Interview (1931)
Context: Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.

„The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide“

—  Edna St. Vincent Millay, Renascence

"Renascence" (1912), st. 20, Renascence and Other Poems (1917)
Context: The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky, —
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat — the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.

„So wanton, light and false, my love, are you,
I am most faithless when I most am true.“

—  Edna St. Vincent Millay, book A Few Figs from Thistles

From Sonnet III: "Oh, Think not I am faithful to a vow!", A Few Figs from Thistles (1922) <!-- Not sure whether this appears in the 1920 edition. -->
Context: But you are mobile as the veering air,
And all your charms more changeful than the tide,
Wherefore to be inconstant is no care:
I have but to continue at your side.
So wanton, light and false, my love, are you,
I am most faithless when I most am true.

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„Many a bard's untimely death
Lends unto his verses breath“

—  Edna St. Vincent Millay

"To a Poet Who Died Young" in Second April‎ (1921), p. 52
Context: Many a bard's untimely death
Lends unto his verses breath;
Here's a song was never sung:
Growing old is dying young.

„I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.“

—  Edna St. Vincent Millay

Sonnet XLIII: "What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why" (1923), Collected Poems", 1931
Context: Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

„But, sure, the sky is big, I said;
Miles and miles above my head“

—  Edna St. Vincent Millay, Renascence

"Renascence" (1912), st. 3 Renascence and Other Poems (1917)
Context: But, sure, the sky is big, I said;
Miles and miles above my head;
So here upon my back I'll lie
And look my fill into the sky.
And so I looked, and, after all,
The sky was not so very tall.
The sky, I said, must somewhere stop,
And — sure enough! — I see the top!
The sky, I thought, is not so grand;
I 'most could touch it with my hand!
And reaching up my hand to try,
I screamed to feel it touch the sky.

„Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain“

—  Edna St. Vincent Millay

Sonnet XXX from Fatal Interview (1931)
Context: Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.

„And reaching up my hand to try,
I screamed to feel it touch the sky.“

—  Edna St. Vincent Millay, Renascence

"Renascence" (1912), st. 3 Renascence and Other Poems (1917)
Context: But, sure, the sky is big, I said;
Miles and miles above my head;
So here upon my back I'll lie
And look my fill into the sky.
And so I looked, and, after all,
The sky was not so very tall.
The sky, I said, must somewhere stop,
And — sure enough! — I see the top!
The sky, I thought, is not so grand;
I 'most could touch it with my hand!
And reaching up my hand to try,
I screamed to feel it touch the sky.

„The only people I really hate are servants. They are not really human beings at all.“

—  Edna St. Vincent Millay

Context: The only people I really hate are servants. They are not really human beings at all. As attributed without citation in At Home by Bill Bryson, Chapter V, "The Scullery and the Larder" p. 111

„… one damn thing after another … one damn thing over and over.“

—  Edna St. Vincent Millay

From an October 1930 letter to Arthur Davison Ficke, as variously described by her biographers, e.g.:
[L]ife was not so much "one damn thing after another" as "one damn thing over and over"
As paraphrased ("she had sent [...] a half-comic note, complaining that...") with quoted phrases in Jean Gould, The Poet and Her Book: A Biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay (1969), p. 198
[L]ife isn't one thing after another, it's the same thing over and over
As paraphrased ("she writes that...") and apparently Bowlderized in Miriam Gurko, Restless spirit: the life of Edna St. Vincent Millay (1962), p. 197
[I]t was not true that life is one damn thing after another — it was one damn thing over and over
As paraphrased ("Edna had written [...] that...") in Joan Dash, A Life of One's Own: Three Gifted Women and the Men they Married (1973), p. 189
The paraphrase by Dash appears to be the origin of later popularly attributed variants, e.g.:
It is not true that life is one damn thing after another. It's the same damn thing over and over.
As attributed without citation in Psychoanalysis Today: A Case Book (1991) by Elizabeth Thorne and Shirley Herscovitch Schaye, p. 93
It is not true that life is one damn thing after another. It's the same dang thing over and over again.
As attributed without citation in The Last Word: A Treasury of Women's Quotes (1992) by Carolyn Warner

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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