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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

An Unlikely Superhero

Ask a kid what they want to be when they grow up and they might say they want to be a fireman or a dancer. Perhaps a superhero like superman, which in grownup-speak means policeman, soldier or even preacher because they are saving the world from evil. But—by the time they are finished with school—they will typically change their minds a few times based on local opportunities, pressure from parents and tuition fees.

When someone asked the young me about my future, I said, “I’m going to be a writer.” I kept a diary and later some journals. I wrote stories and created crudely assembled “books.” I entertained my family by reading them my flawed but heartfelt poems.

 In high school, I had one superhero and her name was Edna St. Vincent Millay.
The way she had experienced various passions and perspectives in life and then wrote about them, made her a sort of idol I wanted to emulate.
Although I’ve outgrown my enamored feelings—here are a few (romantic) facts about a writer and poet who lived a charmed life, creating not only lyrical poetry but who also had amazing success.

1.       She had red hair and green eyes!
2.       She wrote an opera for The Met.
3.       She owned an island called Ragged Island in Maine.
4.       She lived in Vienna, Rome, Budapest, Paris and New York
5.       She wrote articles for magazines using the pseudonym Nancy Boyd.
6.       She received the Pulitzer Prize
7.       She married a Dutch importer in 1924
8.       She died working all night on her last book of poems.

My favorite of her poems are:
a.       Renascence
b.      Childhood is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies
c.       The Fawn
d.      Dirge Without Music
e.      Hyacinth
f.        Souvenir
g.       The Philosopher
h.      The Poet and His Book
i.         Conscientious Objector

Her poems are emotional and delicate, not contrived. Her tender words touch on love and innocence as it teeters on the brink of mortality. Perhaps subjects I didn’t need to be so enthralled with at age 17 but glad her words are still sitting on my shelves waiting for me to return. And now that I’m a mature “writer,” it’s time to set new goals. Anyone have an island for sale? Maybe  I better start with red hair.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am in love with him to whom a hyacinth is dearer
Than I shall ever be dear.
On nights when the field-mice are abroad he cannot sleep:
He hears their narrow teeth at the bulbs of his hyacinths.
But the gnawing at my heart he does not hear.

How about you?
What were your childhood aspirations?

Did you have a superhero that you wanted to be like when you grew up? 


  1. I always wanted to be an artist and or work in archaeology
    Didn't really have any superheros. Except for my Mum.
    If I was a superhero I would be able to talk to animals.

    cheers, parsnip and thehamish

  2. I wanted to be Aquaman but didn't want to spend all day swimming with fish.
    Cool she owned an island.
    I wanted to do something artistic and be a musician. Ironically, I managed to do both.

  3. Thank you for writing about her, Eve. I do like that verse.

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  5. Hmm. As a child, I adored writing, drawing and astronomy and wanted to be an astronomer when I grew up. Then I found out how much math was involved and chucked the aspiration.
    I still love the sciences and believe this is why I became a medical assistant, then massage therapist ... but my love for writing and art resurfaced, so I'm now a writer ... and dabble heavily in art, book arts (that's the art of actually creating books ... I love the wood-bound tomes the best, but can make all types) and photography.
    My story continues to unfold ...

  6. I wanted to be a pharmacist because I learned they made a lot of money. Then I changed my mind because my mother told me how many years I would have to attend college. Psychologist, same thing. So then I decided I wanted to save the world from the Y2K "virus" which turned out to not be a virus, but a condition I could help resolve with a lot of tedious and mundane work as a computer programmer. Funny how these things work.

  7. I think you may be the only person I know whose childhood hero was a poet, Eve. I wanted to be a jockey, and then a fiction writer.

  8. I've heard of Edna, but wasn't that familiar with her. I'm glad you shared:)

  9. I wanted to be a nanny! I had this crazy idea that some rich family would realise how wonderful I was with children, and whisk me off to their numerous different homes around the world.
    I am a grandmother of four now – so I became a nanny but not in quite the way I intended!
    I don’t think I had a super hero, although if I was forced to choose one, I would say my dad. He could do anything, mend everything and had an answer for all my questions.