Celebrate National Poetry Month with 'Travel' by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Celebrate National Poetry Month with 'Travel' by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Monday, 19 April, 2021

It’s the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Month, a celebration of how a poets’ words can enchant, challenge, move, surprise, thrill, and uplift us — taking us somewhere previously uncharted in our imaginations.

rule

This poem from Edna St. Vincent Millay was written in 1921, a dramatic period in the United States. Both WWI and the Spanish Flu had concluded their dirty business, but Prohibition was in effect. And with their newly acquired right to vote, women began to assert themselves in other areas of life.

This poem captures that yearning for a different choice, a different view, a different adventure. Both wistful and forceful, it articulates the tension between the comfort of the familiar and the allure of what lies at the other end of tracks leading into the distance.

 

Travel by Edna St. Vincent Millay

  • The railroad track is miles away,
  • And the day is loud with voices speaking,
  • Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day
  • But I hear its whistle shrieking.

  • All night there isn’t a train goes by,
  • Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
  • But I see its cinders red on the sky,
  • And hear its engine steaming.

  • My heart is warm with friends I make,
  • And better friends I’ll not be knowing;
  • Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
  • No matter where it’s going.
 

About Edna St. Vincent Millay

Born in Rockland, Maine, in 1892, American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay was a firecracker who read voraciously, believed in feminism, loved men and women with equal passion, and in 1923, was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. After graduating from Vassar in 1917, she moved to New York City’s Greenwich Village with her sister Norma, where they lived in a nine-foot-wide attic — smoking, drinking, playing gin rummy, and flirting with the other bohemians. She coined the phrase My candle burns at both ends in her poem First Fig, and won the Pulitzer Prize for The Ballad of Harp Weaver.

  • Read more about this remarkable woman at Poetry Foundation.

  • Listen to Edna St. Vincent Millay reading her poem The Ballad of Harp Weaver.

  • Watch the documentary Burning Candles: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Top image courtesy of Alan Ren/Unsplash.

Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!

keep reading

Poe's shadowy view of the world is as irresistible as it is spooky, due to his ability to weave a dark spell of words. In this poem, the winged messenger of the title is the only solace for our broken-hearted narrator.
We love this sweet poem that perfectly captures the magic of getting lost in a great book. If you think you don't 'get' poetry, give this one a try.
The poet's atmospheric poem blurs the divide between memories and haunting. He casts the 'harmless phantoms' — who glide by our sides and sit at our fires — as silent visitors, forging our connection to the beyond.
Poetry can cut to the heart of an issue like no other art form. It's both personal and universal, a way to shine a light on issues and how we relate to each other. Here are two works from Nigerian poets that we love.

sharing is caring!

Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!

our mission

Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.

our patreon

If you like the work we do, you can help support us through our Patreon! That'll unlock additional content, too — like Mel's recipe for Banh Mi Bowls, and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.

get our newsletter
We'll never share your email with anyone else. Promise.

This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.

no spoilers. ever.

We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.

super-cool reading fun
reading atlas

This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.

get our newsletter
We'll never share your email with anyone else. Promise.
follow us

Content on this site is © 2021 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.