Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Few Words with E. Millay

This one goes out to Renée at No Water River, who created a wonderful interview with William Butler Yeats and suggested trying it ourselves. Here goes!

Photograph of Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1914

Dates: b. February 22, 1892 in Rockland, Maine; d. October 19, 1950 in Austerlitz, New York
Recognition: Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 1923
Married: Eugen Boissevain in 1925
To read her poetry: Everypoet.com's Archive of Classic Poems
For more information: The Millay Society

Please welcome poet, playwright, and activist Edna St. Vincent Millay! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us, Ms. Millay.

My candle burns at both ends/It will not last the night!

I guess we'd better hurry then. OK, here's my first question. What made you want to become a writer?

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./I screamed, and -- lo! -- Infinity/Came down and settled over me.../Whispered to me a word whose sound/ Deafened the air for worlds around,/And brought unmuffled to my ears/The gossiping of friendly spheres,/The creaking of the tented sky,/The ticking of Eternity./I saw and heard, and knew at last/The How and Why of all things, past,/And present, and forevermore.

Wow. So you wanted to share that with others. What else inspires you?

I will look at cliffs and clouds/With quiet eyes,/Watch the wind bow down the grass,/And the grass rise.

Beautiful. Do you have a favorite place to write?

Come see my shining palace built upon the sand!

What a lovely offer. After we're done, let's head over. What do you do when the words won't come?

Tiresome heart, forever living and dying,/House without air, I leave you and lock your door.

Hmm... Do you have any advice for young poets?

Into the golden vessel of great song/Let us pour all our passion!

Thanks for sharing your passion with us, Ms. Millay!


P.S. When I was considering which poet to interview, I thought about Shakespeare, but it turns out that he's been interviewed a lot already! Here's a radio interview from the 1950s: "CBS Radio Workshop - Interview With William Shakespeare"


Renee LaTulippe said...

Ha! Wonderful, Tabatha! I especially love the "moving right along" feel after an apparently crabby Edna says she's burning her candle at both ends.

What fun! I'm so glad my Yeats post sparked this interview. Hmm....who else can we wrangle for one of these? The possibilities are endless! :)

Amy LV said...

"What a lovely offer." Thank you for bringing Ms. Millay to us today. This interview cracked me up! Such fun to "meet" Edna in person...your poem pairings to questions are delightful! Have fun at her house! a.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Oh, my - thanks for working out this interview, with Ms. Millay's busy schedule and all. Enjoy the palace...!

Linda B said...

Beautiful photo too, Tabatha. I love that you tried this, and included some of those gorgeous lines as well. Thank you!

HWY said...

What a great way to study a poet...looking through a lot of poems for lines that mean a particular thing. Great exercise...and your "interview" was excellent.

Carol Varsalona said...

Tabatha, since Edna Vincent Millay was one of my favorite poets in high school, I am so glad that you brought her to us in such a delightful way. The amount of research you did to comprise this piece is amazing and I love the way you wove Edna's poetry into her responses. I am glad that I stumbled upon this today.

Michelle Kogan said...

Fantastic Tabatha, thanks so much for bringing more of Ms. Millay closer to us, she's been a fav of mine especially for her socially active poems. Please pass on my thanks to her too!