She burned her candle at both ends and won the Pulitzer for poetry, but what Edna St. Vincent Millay to me was one of the first female writers I read who truly did not give a fruck. She was anti-war when that was unpopular, then supported the war against Hitler when that was unpopular. She was bi-sexual when society demanded that you pick a side and that side better be hetero. She was headstrong and hedonistic, “a frivolous young woman, with a brand-new pair of dancing slippers and a mouth like a valentine,” according to one critic who proposed to her (she turned him down). She had a damn good time, and she wrote damn good poetry:
I, being born a woman and distressed
By all the needs and notions of my kind,
Am urged by your propinquity to find
Your person fair, and feel a certain zest
To bear your body’s weight upon my breast:
So subtly is the fume of life designed,
To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind,
And leave me once again undone, possessed.
Think not for this, however, the poor treason
Of my stout blood against my staggering brain,
I shall remember you with love, or season
My scorn with pity, – let me make it plain:
I find this frenzy insufficient reason
For conversation when we meet again. (1923)
And of course . . .