News & Features

Not Your Everyday Saint

Edna St. Vincent Millay '17
Edna St. Vincent Millay '17

Known for her unapologetic individuality (she was openly bisexual) and superior artistic ability, Edna St. Vincent Millay ’17 was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Her way with words in fact earned her a place at Vassar—she was offered a scholarship to attend after impressing a guest at a party with her poetic prowess.

She thrived on campus, writing the winning song for the 1916 Founder’s Day as well as the words for her graduation’s “Baccalaureate Hymn.” But her non-academic “pursuits” caused their share of friction with the college’s administration. She once dared President MacCracken to expel her, skipped class due to being “in pain with a poem,” and pushed boundaries (and buttons) so far that she was forbidden from singing the “Baccalaureate Hymn” at her graduation, for which she wrote the song’s words!

She was also rumored to have had quite a penchant for flinging herself out of Jewett windows in attempts at suicide … thrice. The first time, she allegedly fell into a tree that broke her fall. The second time, her jump was reportedly from too short a height to do damage. And on her third attempt at diving to her death she bounced, like a ball. Or so the legend goes.

As it turns out, the tales of Millay’s legendary leaps are false. Nevertheless, she was far from your ordinary saint.

–Nana T. Baffour-Awuah ’14

Posted Wednesday, August 1, 2012