Poetry is not really my expertise, so I feel awkward trying to write this. Of course, I came to this book familiar with a few of Millay’s most well-known poems, particularly “First Fig.” The poem that made Millay’s reputation was “Renascence,” about a person who is buried in the earth alive and springs back out.
I think this is an interesting book for someone not familiar with Millay. It contains most of her best-known poems from several different collections.
Although Millay was known as a master writer of sonnets and this book contains many sonnets, I think I prefer some of her less formal, cheekier poems, for example, “Thursday.” I also liked the poems that reflect her familiarity with old Celtic and British folk ballads—whose rhythms sound like someone singing a ghostly Border ballad.
After reading in Milford’s biography about Millay’s wonderful voice, I looked for a recording on YouTube. I was delighted to find an atmospheric performance of “The Ballad of the Harpweaver,” recorded for radio.
You might be interested in reading my review of the biography of her life.