IT IS POSSIBLE that two American women have risen beyond Mrs. Browning and Christina Rossetti, to occupy the poetic empyrean alone with Sappho: Emily Dickinson, the mysterious recluse of Amherst whose work was slowly parcelled out after her death; and Edna St. Vincent Millay, a shining figure in American literature for nearly two decades, although she is not yet forty. The one wrote in curiously simple yet heterodox measures, while the other has confined herself to the most conventional forms, especially the sonnet, of which there are sixty-eight in five small volumes.
Miss Millay was nineteen, a senior at Vassar, when she wrote Renascence, not only an astonishing achievement for one so young but one of the unforgettable utterances of this generation. It was the surprising feature of The Lyric Year, an anthology of 1912, and gave the title to her first book, published in 1917. Her more popular reputation came from the much slighter work in A Few Figs from Thistles, which is full of delightful, quotable impertinences. The Buck in the Snow and Other Poems ( 1928) is deeply serious throughout.
To quote Miss Harriet Monroe, the distinguished editor of Poetry: "Miss Millay's most confessional lyrics are in sonnet form, and among them are a number which can hardly be forgotten so long as English literature endures, and one or two which will rank among the best of a language extremely rich in beautiful sonnets. It is a pity that the poet ever broke up the series of Twenty Sonnets published in Reedy's Mirror during April and May 1920, and afterwards scattered, all but two of them, through the volumes entitled Second April, Figs from Thistles, and