Edna St. Vincent Millay was one of the most famous American poets of her day, not least for her colorful love life, but her fame may well have made an objective evaluation of her art problematic. It is not much different today: even the titles of her most recent biographies, Savage Beauty (2001) and What Lips My Lips Have Kissed (2001), have a sensationalist aspect, and the nude photographs of her held by the Library of Congress and sealed until 2010 are unlikely to decrease the sensationalism. Millay made, and still makes, good copy. When the distinguished British poetry publisher Carcanet published her Selected Poems to mark the centenary of her birth in 1992, it could not resist prefacing the volume with an undated foreword by the American poet Richard Eberhart, which states that he had “worshipped” the poet because she possessed “immortality.” “She was,” he wrote, “too beautiful to live among mortals.” Millay heard a lot of such mild compliments, and some critics have reacted against the like by dismissing the art as well as the artist.Less
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