Theme Of Love Is Not All

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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 brings up many points during the first 6 lines of the poem, which is their explanation as to why love is not important. However, these points are spoken to the readers with a very bold diction. The speaker’s point is to compare love to the necessities of life, such as food, water, shelter, and even breathing. They convey this point effortlessly with the repeating use of the word “nor”. It is a constant reminder that love is not and can never be those things. The feeling of ambivalence towards love is also shown through the diction used during the following lines. “It may well be that in a difficult hour, / Pinned down by pain and moaning for release, /Or nagged by want past revolution’s power, /I might be driven to sell your love for peace,” (line 9-12) Although all the lines use bold diction that eventually point towards the question, is love worth it? The specific line “Pinned down by pain and moaning for release” (line 10) is so graphic that it adds to the feelings of ambivalence. The language is so bold and daring that it makes the reader genuinely that the speaker would trade the love of their significant other for peace, if it really came to it. Then the speaker starts to doubt her own feelings, which she states in line 14. “It well may be. I do not think I would.” (line 14) The diction used during this line shows that even the speaker …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

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