Edna St. Vincent Millay
- Only until this cigarette is ended,
- A little moment at the end of all,
- While on the floor the quiet ashes fall,
- And in the firelight to a lance extended,
- Bizarrely with the jazzing music blended,
- The broken shadow dances on the wall,
- I will permit my memory to recall
- The vision of you, by all my dreams attended.
- And then adieu, — farewell! — the dream is done.
- Yours is a face of which I can forget
- The color and the features, every one,
- The words not ever, and the smiles not yet;
- But in your day this moment is the sun
- Upon a hill, after the sun has set.
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950) was born in Rockland, Maine. She attended Vassar College and upon graduation moved to Greenwich Village. In 1917, she published Renascence and Other Poems; in 1920, A Few Figs from Thistles; and in 1921, Second April, from which this sonnet is taken. Two years later, in 1923, when she was just 31 years old, Millay published The Harp Weaver and Other Poems, which won the Pulitzer Prize. A master of rhymed, metrical forms and a superb sonneteer, Millay wrote a poetry that was at once witty, perceptive, passionate, and exquisitely wrought. Beautiful and bisexual, she had many lovers both before and during her marriage to Eugen Jan Boissevain. Millay’s brilliant achievements in strict form place her in the first ranks of 20th-century American poets; in a period when many of the high modernists are read only in university classrooms, Millay’s poetry remains widely read and admired.