A Village poet and the hospital she’s named for

Ednastvincentmillay1Edna St. Vincent Millay is an emblem of 1920s Greenwich Village.

Bohemian, free-love advocate, and a writer of passionate, sometimes cynical lyrical poetry, Millay lived in various places in the Village beginning in 1917, most famously at 75 1/2 Bedford Street.

Considering how connected she is to the Village, it’s still surprising to learn that Millay, born and raised in Maine, was actually named after another Greenwich Village icon: St. Vincent’s Hospital.

Giving her the middle name St. Vincent was a way to honor the hospital that saved her uncle’s life just before Millay was born in 1892.

EdnastvincentmillayarchWorking as a stevedore on a ship, he became trapped below deck for days without food or water.

When he was found, he was brought to St. Vincent’s and nursed back to health.

Shortly after Millay was born, her aunt wrote this in a letter to her uncle, “the Vincent is for St. Vincent’s Hospital, the one that cared so well for our darling brother,”  according to Nancy Milford’s wonderful biography of Millay, Savage Beauty.

Millay referenced the city around her in her poems: riding the Staten Island ferry, the “fruit-carts and clam-carts” of MacDougal Street. She died in her upstate home in 1950.


Founded in 1849 and closed abruptly in 2010, St. Vincent’s (above, in 1931) was bulldozed out of its longtime location at Seventh Avenue and 11th Street over the past year.

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8 Responses to “A Village poet and the hospital she’s named for”

  1. dhonour Says:

    Recuredo is one of my all time favorite poems. I had no idea she was named after St. Vincent’s!

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I love Recuerdo too. I was going to excerpt a few lines but I figured everyone knows it already!

  3. adrianlesher Says:

    According to Wikipedia, the musical artist St. Vincent also takes her name from the hospital, which she heard about in a Nick Cave song which refers to it as the place Dylan Thomas died.

  4. Searchingforamerica Says:

    Thank you – want to read more about her – Savage Besuty

  5. Searchingforamerica Says:

    beauty – sorry about the auto speller

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    […] the beginning 42 years ago it was just a little place belonging to the Village of Edna St. Vincent Millay and painter Tony Sarg,” Wolfe wrote for the New York Herald Tribune. “His murals still […]

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    […] refine their crafts. It was also a haven for free love and those who approved of free love, such as Edna St. Vincent Millay. Most were poor and couldn’t always pay their rent, but that didn’t stop them from […]

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