Edna St Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St Vincent Millay is Rose’s favourite poet. She quotes Millay throughout the book and even parodies some of her poetry, but one of the most significant references is when Rose recites Counting-Out Rhyme to Róża the first time she meets her.

“Oh, what a lot she’s got to answer for, Edna St. Vincent Millay, whipping the youth of America into action in Europe. I’m sure she didn’t mean for me to end up in the Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp in Germany when she signed my copy of Make Bright the Arrows in that lecture hall at Jericho Valley College last spring, and shook my hand and wished me good luck ferrying planes in England.”

As she leaves Ravensbrück, Rose is quoting from Dirge Without Music, which is a very heartwrenching piece of poetry that (to me) not only applies to Rose Under Fire but also is very relatable to Code Name Verity as well.

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Stuff You Missed in History Class has a very good two-part podcast about Millay: Part 1 / Part 2

Free recordings of Millay poems on LibriVox

I have not read this biography myself but I have had friends who highly recommend it. Savage Beauty: the Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay

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