Sunday, March 19, 2006

Savage Beauty

This weekend has been breath-takingly lovely. Walking this morning, we had what I think of as a "mockingbird symphony". Those are the springy mornings when the bird song fills the air with one lilting melody after another, and the mockingbirds turn summersaults of joy in the treetops. After the weeks of rain and cold, the happiness was almost too much! I was thinking about a line from a poem: "Lord, I do fear Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year".

I recently finished reading a fascinating book, Savage Beauty, by Nancy Milford. This is the biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay, a tortured genius whose life story is a total page-turner, as described by Milford. She came from a childhood of poverty and deprivation, yet somehow pulled herself up through her enormous gift for poetry and self-promotion, until she became perhaps the most famous poet of her generation. Her books were best-sellers, and she travelled around the world in the company of many of the brightest artists and writers. The dark side of her world was her increasing alcoholism, and eventual drug addiction. I was especially struck by what must have been her enormous personal force and magnetism. Even when she was in poor health and dark disposition, people fell in love with her to the point that many of their lives went completely off the track in pursuit of her. She lived with such passion and intensity.

Here is the poem I was thinking of this morning. It also speaks volumes about the life of the author.

God's World
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this:
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

6 comments:

Rexroth's Daughter said...

How beautiful! Now I want to read that biography. St Vincent Millay's rapture about the earth's beauty is so compelling. We're having that kind of stunning day here today. The sky is as perfectly blue as one could hope, a minus tide pulled us to the beach, and a pair of eagles sat together above the straits surveying their domain. We shouted, "No more. We are overfull with such stuff." Not really, but sometimes there's simply abundance.

Linstilllife said...

Oh I'm so glad to have you both in my life! I love to come here and be enrichd and included.

TDharma said...

Oh, I'll be reading that book!

Yes, it has been gorgeous...I keep think of getting out in it, but I'm puttering about the house enjoying myself immensly....

adagio said...

i had never heard of edna st vincent millay. her life requires further investigation. thanks sigrid.

Endment said...

I can almost hear the mockingbird...

Thanks for sharing the book. As soon as I am finished trying to take pictures of snowflakes in sunshine, I will see if I can pick it up.

What a beautiful word picture

Dotty Stripes said...

That is so lovely. What a gift you are!