When I first read Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poems, I questioned the true meanings behind them. At first, I read them very literally, but after much thought, I realized they shared one common theme. In the poems The Penitent, What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, Love is Not All, Feast, and City Trees they all seemed like a personal experience or message that Edna wanted to share. There was no remorseful feeling in the poems, but rather a very real and reminiscent feeling. Out of all of the poems, I found The Penitent to be the most intriguing. Edna was a free spirit, and while she tried to believe what she had done was sinful, she couldn’t. Her independent and creative attitude didn’t fit into the societal norms of her time. Her spirit is not one that wants to dwell or be held down. She writes “But if I can’t be sorry, why, I might as well be glad!”, which shows how she decided to embrace her sexuality and mind instead of the idea to “put a ribbon on [her] hair To please a passing lad”, which is what many girls would probably have done.
I found Mr. Searles' presentation interesting because I didn’t realize that the “promiscuous” woman ever really existed before the “Britney Spears” and “Beyonces” of the world started to emerge. Edna was bisexual, and involved in an open marriage, which at the time was look down upon heavily. For years, women were fighting to have freedom, in many forms. Women suppressed their feelings and desires, while Edna decided to embrace the creative and independent side of herself. This fight for women started long before we thought, and in times where it was socially unacceptable to be sexually promiscuous and to think independently, Edna persisted. It makes me feel good knowing that this strong, and unapologetic attitude isn’t unprecedented, as I see it in many women on our campus already, specifically from SWAGA members!The poems by Edna are topics that we as a society could read now without much criticism but that would not be the case in the early 1900s. We have already advanced greatly as a society, and these poems are a great representation at the evolving attitude of the public in today’s world. Edna is a pioneer in many ways for women, just as Michelle Obama, or Elizabeth Warren are. It was nice to read about a woman who was not ashamed or regretful of her actions, but rather shared them to try and send a message with her words. Although we still have a lot work to be done, it’s women like Edna that make us one step closer to being there.