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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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OUR AMERICAN TREASURE

 

Edna St. Vincent Millay

[1892-1950]

 

Edna St. Vincent Millay has been honored posthumously as our American Treasure.

 

In Huntsman, What Quarry? two of Millay's poems were chosen that speak to intellectual history and love: Sonnet and Modern Declaration. Her writings denounced the fascism and violence of the times. 

 

The Edna St. Vincent Millay Society graciously allowed publication; we trust you will enjoy them as we have.

 

 

MODERN DECLARATION

 

I, having loved ever since I was a child a few

      things, never having wavered
In these affections; never through shyness in the

      houses of the rich or in the presence of clergy-

      men having denied these loves;
Never when worked upon by cynics like chiroprac-

      tors having grunted or clicked a vertebra to

      the discredit of those loves;

Never when anxious to land a job having diminished

      them by a conniving smile; or when befuddled

      by drink
Jeered at them through heartache or lazily fondled

      the fingers of their alert enemies; declare


That I shall love you always.

No matter what party is in power;

No matter what temporarily expedient combination

      of allied interests wins the war;
Shall love you always.

 

                                           —Edna St. Vincent Millay 

 

 

SONNET

 

Upon this age, that never speaks its mind,
This furtive age, this age endowed with power
To wake the moon with footsteps, fit an oar
Into the rowlocks of the wind, and find
What swims before his prow, what swirls behind―
Upon this gifted age, in its dark hour,
Rains from the sky a meteoric shower
Of facts...they lie unquestioned, uncombined.

Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill
Is daily spun; but there exists no loom
To weave it into fabric; undefiled
Proceeds pure Science, and has her say; but still
Upon this world from the collective womb
Is spewed all day the red triumphant child.


                              —Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

 

Reprinted by the kind  permission of Elizabeth Barnett, Literary Executor, The Millay Society. © 1939 by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Norma Millay Ellis.

 

File:Millay magn.jpg

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1914

Photographer Arnold Genthe