Edna St. Vincent Millay


Throughout much of her career, Pulitzer Prize-winner Edna St. Vincent Millay was one of the most successful and respected poets in America. She is noted for both her dramatic works, including Aria da capo, The Lamp and the Bell, and the libretto composed for an opera, The King’s Henchman, and for such lyric verses as “Renascence” and the poems found in the collections A Few Figs From Thistles, Second April, and The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver,winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1923. Like her contemporary Robert Frost, Millay was one of the most skillful writers of sonnets in the twentieth century, and also like Frost, she was able to combine modernist attitudes with traditional forms creating a unique American poetry. But Millay’s popularity as a poet had at least as much to do with her person: she was known for her riveting readings and performances, her progressive political stances, frank portrayal of both hetero and homosexuality, and, above all, her embodiment and description of new kinds of female experience and expression.  Source


My heart is what it was before,

  A house where people come and go; 

But it is winter with your love,

  The sashes are beset with snow.

I light the lamp and lay the cloth,

  I blow the coals to blaze again; 

But it is winter with your love,

  The frost is thick upon the pane.

I know a winter when it comes:

  The leaves are listless on the boughs; 

I watched your love a little while,

  And brought my plants into the house.

I water them and turn them south,

  I snap the dead brown from the stem;

But it is winter with your love,–

  I only tend and water them.

There was a time I stood and watched

  The small, ill-natured sparrows' fray;

I loved the beggar that I fed,

  I cared for what he had to say,

I stood and watched him out of sight;

  Today I reach around the door

And set a bowl upon the step;

  My heart is what it was before,

But it is winter with your love;

  I scatter crumbs upon the sill,

And close the window,–and the birds

 May take or leave them, as they will.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Faith & Hope

Love & Relationships

Literary Devices:


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


a recurrence of the same word or phrase two or more times