Love Is Not All By Edna St. Vincent Millay

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“Love is Not All” is a sonnet written by Edna St. Vincent Millay regarding a personal message directing the question of value and intensity of genuine love. This fourteen-line sonnet exploits both Shakespearean and Petrarchan sonnet designs. In most Shakespearean sonnets, the turn takes place between the twelfth and thirteenth lines, but the turn in “Love is Not All” does not. Millay’s poem shows a turn after the octave (happens in Petrarchan sonnets), making it a split into two cases or topics. The first eight lines, or octave, introduces that love is not all it is sought out to be, whereas the last six lines, or the sestet, shows a new thought and the speaker’s feelings regarding love. Furthermore, this poem also shows the inadequacy by …show more content…
Millay gives an example of this by stating “Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath / Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone,” explaining how love can do no such thing as something physical to fill these needs (5-6). Saying this, however, she does express how love has some profit, considering people patronize love “for lack of love alone” (8). Millay uses physical aspects such as meat, drinks, rain, blood, lungs, etc. to give the reader a sense of imagery to evoke feelings. For example, Millay states, “a roof against the rain,” expressing how relaxing and calm that phrase comes across and how the love that she is describing is complete opposite (2). While reading, it is easy for the reader to picture what the poet is trying to address and what feelings he/she is trying to generate throughout. Usually, a poet will use words to construct images in the reader’s minds that help he/she portray the poem in a way that the poet may look at it. Furthermore, not only does Millay use imagery to connect the reader, but she also uses alliteration in some verses, as well. She states, “many a man is making” as an alliteration in her poem to address the individuals coming in touch with, or thinking about death (7). An alliteration makes a musical or tune in an element while reading a text, as well as making poetry more engaging and captivating. Millay’s use of poetic devices such as the ones listed above all, causes the reader to interact and engage with the message she is trying to employ. As the speaker provides a broad definition of love that justly characterizes it as not being as important in life as the physical needs that she, or anyone, may need; she does, though, by the end of the poem, confess that love has little profit. She proposes how she does not know if she would trade love for survival. The overall theme of

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