Love Is Not All By Edna St. David Millay

The poem “Love is not all” by Edna St. Vincent Millay deals with multiple views about love and its importance. The poem is written in the Petrarchan format, which consists of an octave and a sestet. The rhyme scheme does lead away from the traditional sonnet form, whereas Millay uses the Shakespearian rhyming scheme instead of the Petrarchan. The speaker of the poem speaks of their feelings of love, however shows an ambivalent attitude towards the topic. The first 6 lines are spent dismissing the idea of love and showing all the ways that it lacks importance. The Volta comes during the last two lines in the octave and it changes the tone of the poem. The sestet then shows the feeling of love in a new light. The speaker presents a very interesting …show more content…
The speaker paints very bold images over the course of the poem A good example of strong imagery in the poem is shown between lines 3-4. “Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink/And rise and sink and rise and sink again;” (line 3-4) The speaker is explaining a scene of a man drowning, who is desperately trying to hang on to something to save himself. Making the comparison between such a tragic scene and the feeling love is very odd. The imagery of this scene shows just how important the spar is to the man and that love could never replace that. However, the speaker eventually contradicts their own thoughts with the use of another very attention-grabbing scene. During the lines 9-12, which were mentioned in the previous paragraph, also depict a very graphic and intense scene. The speaker says that in their worst hour, the time of their death, that they would consider trading the love of their significant other for freedom and to avoid death. However, the speaker later contradicts that idea and says that they would not. The use of imagery during those two scenes also show a nice contradiction between the speaker’s feelings about love, at the beginning of the poem, love has no importance and near the end she would die for it. Such intense scenes being attached to the speaker’s feeling about love shows us how much the poem relies on imagery to …show more content…
Her use of metaphors, diction and imagery gives the readers insight into exactly what the speaker is feeling and when they are having that feeling. The use of such audacious images also the poem to be filled with contradictions. The overall structure of the poem also has an immense impact on the portrayal of the meaning of the poem. The use of the Petrarchan form and the Shakespearian rhyme scheme also makes it easier to comprehend the ambivalence towards love. That brings up the following question, does the speaker simply have a change of heart by the end of the poem? Or is had she always had these

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