a sustained and formal poem setting forth the poet’s meditations upon death or another solemn theme. Examples include Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”; Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s In Memoriam; and Walt Whitman’s “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.”

Elegy Before Death
Edna St. Vincent Millay

There will be rose and rhododendron
When you are dead and under ground;
Still will be heard from white syringas
Heavy with bees, a sunny sound;

Still will the tamaracks be raining
After the rain has ceased, and still
Will there be robins in the stubble,
Brown sheep upon the warm green hill.

Spring will not ail nor autumn falter;
Nothing will know that you are gone,
Saving alone some sullen plough-land
None but yourself sets foot upon;

Saving the may-weed and the pig-weed
Nothing will know that you are dead,—
These, and perhaps a useless wagon
Standing beside some tumbled shed.

Oh, there will pass with your great passing
Little of beauty not your own,—
Only the light from common water,
Only the grace from simple stone!

Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote the poem “Elegy Before Death” on her thoughts of how people affect the world, and how the world remembers them after they are gone. She believes that life goes on after you die; that nothing changes, the seasons remain the same as well as the plants that cover the ground. People will remember you in passing moments, with the “beauty not your own” like “the light from common water” and “the grace from simple stone.”

Link: Trilogy

"A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down. If it is a good book nothing can hurt him. If it is a bad book nothing can help him."

~Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna Millay

         Edna St. Vincent Millay, twentieth-century poet and playwright, was best known for her lyrical poetry. She wrote many poems in traditional sonnet form, on topics such as love, fidelity, erotic desire, and feminist issues. What isn't as widely publicized is that she also acknowledged herself as bisexual and had many affairs with women before her marriage. It's not clear if she continued sexual involvements with women after marriage (though it is quite possible), nor is it clear which of her poems are written about women rather than men. 
         She grew up in a different sort of family--past the age of seven, her father wasn't present, as her mother (Cora) asked him to leave. Cora was a nurse who encouraged Millay (called Vincent by her close friends) and her sisters in musical and literary pursuits. Millay was brought up to be self-sufficient and was taught that ambition was good, an upbringing reflected in her accomplishments of later years.
          In 1922, Millay published a book of poetry called A Few Figs from Thistles In this volume, she described female sexuality in a way that gained her much attention, as she put forth the idea that a woman has every right to sexual pleasure and no obligation to fidelity.
          In 1923, Millay married Eugen Boissevain, a self-proclaimed feminist. Their marriage was agreed to be sexually open, though little is known about how she conducted her personal life once they married. She claimed he allowed her personal freedom and that they lived like "two bachelors." She wrote a great deal while married. Eugen managed her literary career, setting up readings and public appearances. The were together until his death in 1949. Millay died the following year of heart failure.