Millay vs. Shakespeare: Love, Loss and Lament Essay

1507 Words Apr 30th, 2006 7 Pages
Edna St. Vincent Millay's "What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, and Where and Why" is an effective short poem, which feeds on the dissonance between the ideal of love and its reality, heartbreak. In William Shakespeare's "Let Me Not to The Marriage of True Minds," the effectiveness is weakened by its idealiality and metaphysical stereotype. In contrast to Millay, Shakespeare paints a genuine portrait of what love should be but unfortunately never really is. This factor is what makes his poem difficult to relate to, thus weakening the effect on the reader. These poems were published quite far apart from each other, three-hundred and fourteen years to be exact, which might explain the shift in idealism. Though both circumnavigate the concept of …show more content…
The lack of leaves and singing birds on the boughs of the trees stand for the loss of youth and lovers. In the last few lines of the poem Millay's character realizes that nobody young desires the her, now that she has aged. Her chances at love have now been diminished and her sorrow, too overpowering for her to move forward. We see that Millay never tries to answer the "where, and why" (1) questions she asked in the beginning of the poem to prove them irrelevant, it is surely quality not quantity which she has so regretfully missed out on. Overall, Millay not only reveals but admits that she desired and enjoyed, rather than loved the young men who were her lovers, passing from one to the other forgetfully. (3)In William Shakespeare's "Let Me Not to The Marriage of True Minds," rather than base his thoughts in the inconsistency of love, or the heartbreaks, he concentrates on the apex or constancy of it. He compares its constancy with a fixed star, which glimmers and "looks on tempests," (6) overlooking storms and remaining undisturbed or "never shaken." (6) This star refers to mariners at sea, which relied on these seamarks or beacons for navigation and safe bearings. The star acts both as a metaphor of love and its constancy, as well as a guide pushing the voyagers through their journeys. and hardships; analogous to the journey and inevitable hardships of love.

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