What does the poem "Justice Denied in Massachusetts" mean?

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Like many artists and intellectuals of the time, Edna St. Vincent Millay was profoundly disturbed by the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. She thought their trumped-up convictions were patently unfair, based on nothing more than political and xenophobic prejudice.

But more than this, Millay sees this miscarriage of justice as arising from a general attitude of complacency in contemporary society, a convenient collective amnesia over the importance of liberty in American public life. Instead of rousing themselves to a pique of righteous anger, the American people, especially the educated middle-classes, have chosen to cultivate their gardens. Millay doesn't mean this literally, of course; she's using a well-known saying, derived from Voltaire's Candide, which has come to mean the same as minding one's own business.

In due course, such a selfish retreat from the world and its manifest injustices will leave behind a worthless patrimony to our children and grandchildren, who will inherit a "blighted earth," a land in which the kind of injustice meted out to Sacco and Vanzetti will become the norm.

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Edna St. Vincent Millay writes this poem in response to the Sacco- Vanzetti Trial in 1927.  Millay was concerned with the face that the two Italian immigrants did not receive a fair trial, and were caught up in the national preoccupation with rooting out Communists and Anarchists, known as the "Red Scare."  Sacco and Vanzetti were working class immigrants, accused of robbery and murder.  The trial was quickly undertaken, and there was a scant level of evidence, rather convicting them on the basis of their Anarchist beliefs and their immigrant status.  Millay writes a poem that laments the fate of the two convicted individuals, but also the lack of opposition which spoke out to help Sacco and Vanzetti.  Millay writes of a retreating public. This is not the America asserted voice in "We hold these truths to be self evident," but rather has become an America that says, "Let us abandon then our gardens and go home."  In Millay's mind, the desire to remain withdrawn and disengaged in the affairs of the state caused the miscarriage of justice in the trials of Sacco and Vanzetti.

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