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Great Gay Poets Friday! Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Editor’s Note:

This is the third post in honor of National Poetry Month, thanks to guest blogger Julia Garbowski, who conceived the idea and has done an excellent job sharing with us some of her favorites, including last week’s Oscar Wilde and Hart Crane, and in her first piece, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. This week, Julia looks at several poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

I try to imagine what it might have been like for a lesbian or bisexual woman in 1920 when Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote the poem Witch-Wife. I have the words in front of me to help me imagine, and the memory of my grandmother, who was born when Millay was 14 years old. From my grandmother I have stories she told me, this book of poems, I have a silver letter opener, a fur collar, teacups, a rolling pin, and a tasseled piano cover. Pictures of her and other family women are always in dresses, long coats, hats, carefully posed in a chair or standing in front of a house; –except for one, the one with my grandmother, wanting to be with the boys…in her overalls, with a leafy turnip her hand.

Witch-Wife

She is neither pink nor pale,

And she will never be all mine,

She learned her hands in a fairy-tale,

And her mouth on a valentine.

She has more hair than she needs,

In the sun ‘tis a woe to me!

And her voice is a string of colored beads,

Or steps leading into the sea.

She loves me all that she can,

And her ways to my ways resign;

But she was not made for any man,

And she will never be all mine.

Millay was born in the small Maine coastal town of Rockland. She asked to be called Vincent, and began writing poems in her teens. At 19, her long poem “Renascence” attracted a sponsor who paid for her to attend Vassar College. After college she moved to Greenwich Village to write. She was an active suffragist and was considered bisexual at the time; she married Eugen Jan Boissevain on the condition that they have an open marriage. She and her husband had relationships outside their marriage but remained devoted to each other for 27 years until they died within a year of each other, in 1949 and 1950. Millay’s relationships with women included a love affair with British actress Wynne Matthison.

Sonnet IV

I shall forget you presently, my dear,

So make the most of this, your little day,

Your little month, your little half a year,

Ere I forget, or die, or move away,

And we are done forever; by and by

I shall forget you, as I said, but now,

If you entreat me with your loveliest lie

I will protest you with my favorite vow.

I would indeed that love were longer-lived,

And vows were not so brittle as they are,

But so it is, and nature has contrived

To struggle on without a break thus far,

Whether or not we find what we are seeking

Is idle, biologically speaking.

Fellow writer and Greenwich Village resident Max Eastman wrote that “Vincent” replied to a NY doctor “Oh, you mean I am a homosexual! Of course I am, and heterosexual, too, but what has that got to do with my headache?”

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—

It gives a lovely light!

In 1923 she became the first woman to win a Pulitzer in poetry for her poem “The Harp Weaver.” Her career had ups and downs and included somewhat of a decline in later years including a nervous breakdown in 1944. She was interested in politics, social injustices, and women’s rights. For more “Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St Vincent Millay” by Nancy Milford (Random House NY 2003); “The Poet and Her Book” by Jean Gould (Dodd, Mead 1969); “Restless Spirit: The Life of Edna St Vincent Millay” by Miriam Gurko (Crowell NY 1962).

City Trees

The trees along this city street,

Save for the traffic and the trains,

Would make a sound as thin and sweet

As trees in country lanes.

And people standing in their shade

Out of a shower, undoubtedly

Would hear such music as is made

Upon a country tree.

Oh, little leaves that are so dumb

Against the shrieking city air,

I watch you when the wind has come,

–I know what sound is there.

Julia Garbowski lives in Royal Oak, MI and has returned to writing after 25 years of running a farm and market in Door County WI. She grew up in Sag Harbor, NY. Her B.A. in Communications is from the University of Wisconsin. She belongs to the Michigan Literary Network and her twitter name is @driftnotes.

(Images: top: Emily Dickinson, bottom: Edna St. Vincent Millay)

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CRIME

Highland Park Shooting Deaths Include Both Parents of Two Year Old Found at Scene of July 4th Massacre

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On Twitter Sunday afternoon in the aftermath of the July 4th Highland Park mass shooting a photo of a young boy appeared in several tweets. He was described as lost, good samaritans assumed he had become separated from his parents in the mayhem of the massacre, and people were trying to reunite him with his family.

CBS Chicago reporter Marissa Parra now reveals the boy’s name is Aiden, but he won’t be reunited with his parents: both were shot dead by the Highland Park gunman.

“Kevin McCarthy, 37, and Irina McCarthy, 35, were among the seven people [who] were killed during the mass shooting,” CBS Chicago reports.

“We took him to safety under tragic circumstances, came together to locate his grandparents, and prayed for the safety of his family,” reads the story on a GoFundMe page hoping to raise money for Aiden.

“Sadly, I need to share his name…Aiden McCarthy. And he needs more of our help,” it adds. “At two years old, Aiden is left in the unthinkable position; to grow up without his parents,” it adds. “Aiden will be cared for by his loving grandparents, Misha and Nina Levberg, and he will have a long road ahead to heal, find stability, and ultimately navigate life as an orphan. He is surrounded by a community of friends and extended family that will embrace him with love, and any means available to ensure he has everything he needs as he grows.”

About $475,000 has quickly been raised with more than 7600 people contributing. The top donation is $5000.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Invasion’: Texas Lt. Gov. Likens Border Crossings to Attack on Pearl Harbor – ‘These People Are a Danger to America’

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Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, a far-right Republican, is comparing migrants crossing the border into Texas to Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that killed 2335 people. He is calling it an “invasion” and says that gives the state the right to “put hands on people.”

Patrick, who because of Texas’ unique structure is more powerful than the governor, told Fox News on Tuesday, “we are being invaded, and if we’re being invaded under the constitution I think that gives us the power to put hands on people and send them back. Put hands on people and send them back,” he said repeatedly.

“These people are a danger to America,” Patrick said in a rant. It was unclear if he was referring to migrants or President Joe Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The Lt. Governor, who has hawked the racist “great replacement theoryrepeatedly, and used the term “invasionrepeatedly, told Fox News that Texas is now spending $4 billion annually on the border, while Texas National Guardsmen and Texas Rangers complain of being called up to serve, having to abandon their regular jobs, for no apparent reason.

RELATED: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Blames ‘Video Game Industry’ for El Paso White Supremacist Terrorism: ‘We’ve Always Had Guns’

“This is the biggest danger we have, to your family,” Patrick says of the fentanyl crossing the border. “It’s all on Biden,” he claimed.

Last week Texas Governor Greg Abbott drew extensive criticism for using the deaths of more than 50 migrants packed into an 18-wheel tractor-trailer as a political opportunity to attack President Biden. Even some conservatives attacked Abbott for his inhumane remarks..

 

 

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BREAKING NEWS

7th Victim of July 4th Mass Shooting Dies

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Seven people have now died as a result of a gunman opening fire from a rooftop into an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

The latest victim succumbed to their injuries Tuesday afternoon, NBC 5 Chicago reported. Authorities have not identified all the victims, but have said five of those who died were adults. Another 46 people were wounded.

Police on Tuesday announced that the shooter fired at least 70 rounds into the crowd, using a “high-powered rifle” that is “similar” to a AR-15. They also revealed the suspected gunman planned the attack for weeks, purchased his weapons legally, disguised himself by wearing women’s attire to “conceal his facial tattoos and  his identity,” and to “help him during the escape.” He then walked to his mother’s house after the shooting.

Law enforcement Monday evening arrested Robert Crimo, who they say is a “person of interest,” but he has not been charged.

“There are no words for the kind of monster who lies in wait and fires into a crowd of families with children celebrating a holiday with their community,” Illinois Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “There are no words for the kind of evil that robs our neighbors of their hopes, their dreams, their futures. There are no words I can offer to lift the pain of those they leave behind. Please know that our state grieves with you, that MK and I grieve with you.”

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