She is from New York & is a representative of the "Roaring Twenties"; she views sexual liberation with a generally positive outlook. As a modern woman, she wrote poems about the free guiltiness of sexuality.
"I Think I Should Have Loved You Presently"
It is about a woman's first sexual encounter with a new men. She was thinking whenever she said the words "I love you" that she should have meant those words with her heart. At the time, they did not believe in being involved in a serious relationship. He used to like her because she was a shallow person. They just wanted to have fun. Now she thinks she would have loved him only if they would have lasted a couple more days. She is certain he would have never loved her back.
"Apostrophe to Man"
Apostrophe means a direct address to someone or something. She wrote
this poem during World War II. In this poem, Millay is addressing the whole
society. The poem describes the materials that could be converted into
weapons of war. She asks how society is going to deal with all the young
bodies. Her solution was to convert all the young bodies into decaying
flesh. At the end of the poems, she used the word "Homo called sapiens".
Sapiens means wise man. This word is what distinguishes us from the rest
of the living beings like animals. She questioned our intelligence since
she did not see wisdom during this time.
notes on "Apostrophe to Man"
Apostrophe here means a direct address to someone or something. She wrote this poem during World War II. In this poem, Millay is addressing the whole society. The poem describes the materials that could be converted into weapons of war. She asks how society is going to deal with all the young bodies. Her solution was to convert all the young bodies into decaying flesh. At the end of the poem, she uses the phrase "homo called sapiens".
"In the Grave No Flower"
She writes about the death of her mother. Millay believes that when a person dies there should be no flowers in a grave, only death itself. She contradicts Whitman. In his poems, death grows again in flowers and everything else. She relates to T.S. Eliot in that death does not grow again. There is no rebirth of the dead.
"I Too beneath Your Moon, Almighty Sex"
I too beneath your
moon, almighty Sex,
Go forth at nightfall crying like a cat,
Leaving the lofty tower I laboured at
For birds to foul and boys and girls to vex
With tittering chalk; and you, and the long necks
Of neighbours sitting where their mothers sat
Are well aware of shadowy this and that
In me, that's neither noble nor complex.
Such as I am, however, I have brought
To what it is, this tower; it is my own;
Though it was reared To Beauty, it was wrought
From what I had to build with: honest bone
Is there, and anguish; pride; and burning thought;
And lust is there, and nights not spent alone.
This is a sonnet. The neighbors are observing this woman through their windows. The woman is neither "noble nor complex," i.e., she is promiscuous. She sleeps around because she enjoys sex. The apartment she lives in is her own. She pays the rent with her own money. Almost every night she sleeps accompanied by a different man. She just wants people to live their own lives and not tell others how to live.
"I Forgot for a Moment"
I forgot for a moment France; I forgot England; I forgot my care:
I lived for a moment in a world where I was free to be
With the things and people that I love, and I was haappy there.
I forgot for a moment Holland, I forgot my heavy care.
I lived for a moment in a world so lovely, so inept
At twisted words and crookèd deeds, it was as if I slept and dreamt.
It seemed that all was well with Holland - not a tank had crushed
The tulips there.
Mile after mile the level lowlands blossomed - yellow square, white square,
Scarlet strip and mauve strip bright beneath the brightly clouded sky, the round clouds and the gentle air.
Along the straight canals between striped fields of tulips in the morning sailed
Broad ships, their hulls by tulip-beds concealed, only the sails showing.
This poem was written at the beginning of World War II. After the World War I, America had returned to its traditional isolationism. It "forgot" Europe, and she along with the rest of the country. Isolationism affected our country's ability to help England and France with democracy as they struggled with dictatorship. Germany had just invaded Holland and France, conquering them in just a few days' time.
It seemed that all was well with England - the harsh foreign voice hysterically vowing,
Once more, to keep its word, at length was disbelieved, and hushed.
It seemed that all was well with France, with her straight roads
Lined with slender poplars, and the peasants on the skyline ploughing.
Line 13, "the harsh foreign voice" is the voice of Hitler. The poem ends with France and Holland defeated by the Germans. We would not enter the war for over a year, so thorough was our forgetfulness.
Just as she would forget the lover in "I shall forget you presently,
my dear," she'll eventually forget them all. Nevertheless,
she'll miss their
passage through her life (not to mention through her bed).