Born on this day in Rockland, Maine, romantic poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) passionately wrote of love and loss, freedom and fidelity. A gifted musician, her writing reflected her innate sense of harmony and rhythm.
"Childhood is the kingdom where Nobody dies," she said. "Nobody that matters, that is."
To please her strong-minded mother, 20 year old Edna entered her 214-line poem Renascence into a contest and won fourth place and publication. The exposure brough her critical recognition and a scholarship to Vassar.
"God, I can push the grass apart," she wrote. "And lay my finger on thy heart!"
A beautiful, pioneering feminist of the Roaring Twenties and Jazz Age, she moved to Greenwich Village and with the pseudonym Nancy Boyd, wrote satirical articles for Vanity Fair. Following the publication of her most popular collection, A Few Figs from Thistles, she became the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923.
"The soul can split the sky in two," Millay wrote, "And let the face of God shine through."
A courageous advocate for sexual freedom for women, Millay challenged the double standard with clever charm. Writer John Ciardi said of her career: "It was not as a craftsman nor as an influence, but as the creator of her own legend that she was most alive for us. Her success was as a figure of passionate living."
Let your light shine.