Essay An Analysis of Millay's Poem, Renascence

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An Analysis of Millay's Poem, Renascence

At first glance Edna St. Vincent Millay's first recognized poem, Renascence, seems to be easy to understand and follow. However, as this sing-songy poem is dissected, the reader embarks upon a world full of emotion, religion, confusion, pain and sin. This poem is split up into six sections or stanzas which separate the action of the poem into easy to understand parts. I have chosen to discuss the first section of the poem for my close reading.

Although this section is the easiest to read, it sets up the action and requires the most "reading between the lines" to follow along with the quick and meaningful happenings. Millay begins her poem by describing, in first person, the
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This opportunity is the evil gift the girl cannot give up. Just as Eve bite into the forbidden fruit the young girl sucks the "venom" out of the knowledge. This gift asks in return the toll of an "infinite remorse of soul." In a split second the girl takes on a god-like existence where she alone must bear the pain and suffering of human kind, "All sin was of my sinning, all/ atoning mine,"

The girl goes on to describe the horror of her new found knowledge and her new position of power. The question, "would she do it again and was it worth knowing?" becomes an important issue that will not be resolved until the end of the poem. Towards the end of the stanza it is hinted that she cannot take the weight that has been forced upon her, "Mine, pity like the pity of God./ Ah, awful weight! Infinity/ Pressed down upon the finite Me." At the very end of the stanza the girl is left lying under this horrible weight and craving death.

My first and best guess about what the poet was trying to get across in this section was derived from reading different biographies about the poet. Millay wrote "Renascence" when she was just nineteen years old and was her first poem to win an award. This achievement got her initial recognition in the literary community. The themes introduced at the beginning of this poem hint at the time frame when the poem might be written and the feelings about life the poet might be going through. People
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