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Ballad of the Harp-Weaver by:Edna St.Vincent Millay

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Josephine Buckner

on 6 November 2013

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Transcript of Ballad of the Harp-Weaver by:Edna St.Vincent Millay

Ballad of the Harp-Weaver by:Edna St.Vincent Millay

Josephine Buckner

About the author
Edna's Career
Back Story
Edna St. Vincent Millay, born on Feb. 22, 1892 in Rockland, Maine, was an American poet and play writer. She received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923, the third woman to win the award for poetry.
Her middle name derives from St. Vincent's Hospital in New York, where her uncle's life had been saved just before her birth. Edna (who called herself "Vincent"), Norma, and Kathleen (her sisters) moved from town to town, living in poverty with their mother. (Brittin)
Where it all started
At 14 she won the St. Nicholas Gold Badge and by 15 she had published her poetry in a children's magazine. Edna entered Vassar College at 21; her fame began in 1912 when she entered her poem "Renascence" in a poetry contest in The Lyric Year. The poem was widely considered the best submission and when it was ultimately awarded fourth place, it created a scandal which brought Edna publicity.(Brittin)
In 1923 she married 43-year-old Eugen Jan Boissevain. A self-proclaimed feminist, Boissevain supported her career and took primary care of domestic responsibilities. Both Millay and Boissevain had other lovers throughout their twenty-six-year marriage. For Millay, a significant such relationship was with the poet George Dillon. She met Dillon at one of her readings at the University of Chicago in 1928 where he was a student. He was fourteen years her junior, and the relationship inspired the sonnets in the collection Fatal Interview.
Edna's reputation was damaged by the poetry she wrote about the Allied war effort during World War II. Merle Rubin noted: "She seems to have caught more flak from the literary critics for supporting democracy than Ezra Pound did for championing fascism." In the New York Times Millay mourned the Czechoslovak city of Lidice, the site of a Nazi massacre.(poemhunter)

Millay died at her home on October 19, 1950. She had fallen down stairs. Her physician reported that she had had a heart attack following a coronary occlusion. She was 58 years old. (wikipedia)
In 1943 Millay was the sixth person and the second woman to be awarded the Frost Medal for her lifetime contribution to American poetry. Before this, Miss Millay won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1922, her work had become more profound and less personal as she grew out of the "flaming youth" era in the Village. The nation and the world had become her concern. (poemhunter)

Her work
• A Few Figs From Thistles
• Second April
• The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver
• The Buck in the Snow
• Aria da capo first produced in Greenwich Village, NY, December 5, 1919, M. Kennerley, 1921
• The Lamp and the Bell first produced June 18, 1921, F. Shay, 1921
• Two Slatterns and a King: A Moral Interlude (play), Stewart Kidd, 1921.

Inside Edna
She did preferred to be called "Vincent"
When she taught at Vassar College (then a women's college) she had affairs with several of her students
Her marriage in 1923 was an open marriage, both of them taking other lovers. and she did have childern with her legal husband.

Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver” can be interpreted as a moving testimony to a mother’s unrestricted love. (Rich 18). Millay questions the power of love. Love is an object and purpose only exists in objects that lead to survival. Love is not presented as an emotion but rather as a potential form of sustenance Millay presents love as a heart-wrenching struggle.

Winning the Pulitzer
The harp is monetarily worthless, and its only attribute is its woman’s head. Using these details, Millay implies that the boy believes the harp to be worthless because of its womanly qualities. But the last thing the woman reaches for is the harp when she dies with “her hands in the harp strings”(121). So, the instrument is obviously significant to her. According to Gwenth Evans in “Harp and Harpers in Contemporary Fiction,” harps symbolize three main elements: the power of music to affect society; heroic sacrifice; and the harper’s own musical skill as a way of singling him, or her, out from others. (Evans, Gwenth)
“The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver” is to be interpreted as a young Millay. But this is
complicated by the fact that Millay, too, was fatherless yet never developed any apparent hostility toward her mother. Millay is calling for readers to reexamine their own parental relationships. Rich appeals for what may
be a similar rethinking in a way that can perhaps be read as putting Millay’s poetic voice into prose form:
The pain, floundering, and ambivalence our male children experience is not to be
laid at the doors of mothers who are strong, non-traditional women; it is the
traditional fathers who—even when they live under the same roof—have deserted
their children hourly and daily. We have to recognize, at this moment in history,
as through centuries past, that most of our sons are—in the most profound
sense—virtually fatherless. (11)

Edna won the Pulitzer Prize for her work for The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver; A Few Figs from Thistles; Eight Sonnets in American Poetry;A Miscellany. the catergory was anthology, a collection of literary works. In genre fiction anthology is used to categorize collections of shorter works such as short stories and short novels, usually collected into a single volume for publication.
Work Cited
Brittin, Norman A. "Chronology." Preface. Edna ST. Vincent Millay. N.p.: n.p., n.d.
N. pag. Print.
"Edna St.Vincent Millay." Poemhunter.com. N.p., n.d. Web.
"Edna St.Vincent Millay." Wikipedia.com. N.p., n.d. Web.
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