“Only until this cigarette is ended…”
by 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 colour and he 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 was born on February 22nd 1892 in Rockland, Maine. Millay’s parents were separated and she spent a good part of her childhood living between both homes. Millay went to a public school in Maine and was the editor and chief of her school magazine and also published many pieces in it. One of the poems got published as well as as earned her a scholarship to attend Vassar College. During her college years she wrote many poems as well as started in her own plays, she graduated in 1917 and then moved to the Greenwich Village. While there it was said that she indulged in many love affair, including the novelist Floyd Dell and was married for a little while to Arthur Davison Ficke. In 1921 she published two plays and a solid collection of poetry, Second April. she had man more love affairs including one with a French Violinist that led to an abortion. She was married to Eugene Boissevan. She was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1923. In 1944 Millay had a nervous breakdown and couldn’t write for two years. Millay died sitting on the foot of her staircase on October 19, 1950. “Millay will always be remembered for her flippant quatrain, which she titled “First Fig” (1920):
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!”
Composition on the sonnet
There is no specific time recorded in which Millay started to write this sonnet. It was published in her book Second April, which is a collection of many sonnets. It was published in 1921.
The reason I chose Prospect Park to read the poem out loud is because there are many couples there and this is about a lost love. Prospect Park is very large however I found a perfect quite place near a lake to record. There where many birds chirping and it was a very beautiful scenery for the theme of the poem.
Annotated Works Cited
Furr, Derek. Listening to Millay. Journal of Modern Literature 29.2 (2006): 94. Literature Resource Center. Web. 7 June 2016.
This article is about Millay reading her poems while she was still on tour around the 1920’s. Her voice was supposed to express her poems and words like no other. The writer explains how her writing has a sinister sense to it as well as a loving one. The writer also explains how every poem is very unique.
I agree that Millay’s poem do have a sinister sense to them. Especially this one because it is talking about a dying love in a very deep matter. I also agree that it does talk about love because that is the poems main idea. However I can not say anything towards the matter of Millay’s voice when she is reading her poems because I haven’t heard her read them, but the author does make a very convincing argument.
Simon, John. All for Love. The New Criterion. April 2006. Web. 09 June. 2016
This critical analysis was about describing the poem and what it meant to the writer. The writer described the poem as a lost love that lasted no longer than the duration of a cigarette. He said Millay must have been comparing it to all of her affairs, for she had many and they didn’t last very long except one. He also explains how she says that because most of the men she saw where writers that is why she expressed that the words would never go away.
I agree with the analysis this writer made, I thought it pointed out a lot of important points she was trying to get across. I definitely believe that she wanted to express how her loves where so short using the metaphor of a cigarette. I also believe that what the writer said about the ashes falling to the floor represents a lack of concern for the relationship.
Robinson, Anthony. The Sonnet In The Twentieth Century. AbleMuse. Web. 9 June. 2016.
The writer in this critical analysis writes about how Millay expresses her deepest thoughts into this poem. He writes how she is trying to forget this love as hard as she can but it’s harder than she expected. He also mentions that she is trying to forget because he has forgotten already. The main aspect he tries to explain is the denial she has of the love and how it is really affecting her.
I agree with the writer for two reasons, one being the poem and the evidence it displays once reading and analyzing it carefully. The second reason is the past she has, and that it was difficult for her to be with someone for such a long time. It is possible that she could have fallen in love with one of the men who she was with that wasn’t her husband and it could have affected her.
Video of Millay reading a piece of hers