At the suggestion of her physician and close friends, Edna St. Vincent Millay arrived in St. Thomas for a lengthy, restful holiday during the Christmas season of 1935.
Welcoming Edna St. Vincent Millay
Bandmaster, Alton A. Adams, a local celebrity himself, was one of the lucky ones to be the first to greet her.
Bandmaster Adams was on the Cultural committee, appointed by Governor Pearson and had the good fortune of meeting all the celebrities that visited the islands.
In his autobiography, The Memoirs of Alton Augustus Adams, Sr., there’s a wonderful page dedicated to his encounter with Ms. Millay.
It was fascinating to read of his experience of seeing her for the first time. He caught the first glimpse of her as she disembarked down the gangway of the SS Scanpenn.
Presenting her Flowers
After presenting Ms. Millay with a bouquet of yellow roses, Mr. Adams accompanied her and her Dutch husband, Eugen Boissevain, to their vacation home.
It was located just above the famed 99 steps in Charlotte Amalie and overlooked the harbor and busy town below.
Mr. Adams recalled that when they arrived at the house “Miss Millay ran inside like a young girl and out onto the porch”.
She said, “It’s beautiful. I love it. I am going to be happy here”.
Dedicating a New Desk
After a few days of settling in, Ms. Millay was invited to the St. Thomas Public Library to dedicate a beautiful new desk.
It was designed by Edward Simmonds, a master cabinetry joiner.
A Reading by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Our grandfather, a local correspondent for the New York Times, was one of the fortunate ones to be invited to the dedication ceremony.
He enjoyed the rare opportunity of hearing Ms. Millay read one of her poems.
After the ceremonies, the librarian, Miss Nellie Richardson sat behind the new desk and served her first customer– Ms. Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Did you know that Ms Millay was the author that coined the phrase, My candle burns at both ends?
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!
Source: Poetry Magazine (June 1918)
Have you read her poems or have a favorite?