Quotes of American History: Edna St. Vincent Millay - "First Fig"

Quote Quota Man, December 7 2012

Edna St. Vincent Millay

"My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends
-- It gives a lovely light."

-- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay was a wistful and talented poet of the 1910s and 1920s. Born into a broken family and raised in poverty, she moved with her mother and sisters to several locations in New England as a child before attending Vassar College on a scholarship. Encouraged by her early efforts at poetry she moved to Greenwich Village in 1917 and became well-integrated into the literary scene of that neighborhood.

The lines above are found in "First Fig", which she composed in 1920. It is that decade perhaps which she is most associated with, and where she found her greatest fame and success. In 1923 she won a Pulitzer Prize.

Later in life Millay lived at an estate in Austerlitz, New York, where she died in 1950. The area has since been turned into a state park, and her former home has been open for tours since 2010.

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