Tag Archives: Reuerdo

Edna St. Vincent Millay, First Woman Pulitzer Poetry Winner

My parents started sending me to Mrs. Fred Day’s charmingly named “Expression” classes when I was three years old. There, over a period of seven or eight years, I learned at least one new word each week, practiced exercises intended to improve my posture and diction, was schooled (or at least she tried to school us) in the social graces of serving refreshments to my classmates, and memorized a variety of poems. Some of the lines that have lodged most memorably in my mind are those of Edna St. Vincent Millay. There was the cheery:

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

From “Afternoon on a Hill”

…and the dramatic:

All your lovely words are spoken.
Once the ivory box is broken,
Beats the golden bird no more.

From “Elegy”

So when Bonnie McEwan of Make Waves sent me Millay’s poem, “Recuerdo,” along with a note that the poet who liked to call herself “Vincent” and took many lovers during her life, had been the first woman to receive a Pulitzer prize for poetry in 1923, I immediately conjured the sights and floral smells of Mrs. Day’s rather formal home in Temple, Texas – walking distance from my elementary school. She always wore her perfectly coiffed grey hair up and fastened with combs, and practiced the graciousness she patiently tried to teach all of us rowdy kids. She would have been Millay’s contemporary–a shocking thought to me now, since I think of the poet as fuzzy history while the teacher remains sharply drawn in my mind.

Posted in Know Your History | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments
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Copyright 2010 Gloria Feldt