A Few Figs from Thistles

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

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"My Candle Burns At Both Ends"

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Last Updated on January 19, 2017, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 150

Context: In a sense this brief poem is a flash autobiographical image of the poetess. The daring, independent, playful effervescence of the lines reflects the charm and energy of this famous young lady. The same qualities of personality and attitude toward life can be found in her letters of this period. They reflect an optimistic outlook, a whimsical imagination, aggressiveness, and a genial spirit. To live fully, alertly, and originally seems to have been her desire, and her life in many ways realized this desire. She lived for several years after finishing at Vassar as a Bohemian in Greenwich Village. She was a powerful spokesman for the spirit of revolt and emancipation in the 1920's. Her brief poem makes vivid the intensity of her living:

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends–
It gives a lovely light!

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