Poem “Love is not All”

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The poem I chose is “Love is Not All” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. I chose this poem because it has to do with love and the message she is portraying is amazing. This poem was written in 1931 when Millay was thirty-nine. Most of her work was humorous but not this one. This one is very deep and meaningful. This poem has sort of a romantic language which helps pull in the readers, because who doesn’t love romance. The poem is a sonnet, which consists of fourteen lines of rhymed iambic pentameter. The rhyme scheme of this poem groups sets of lines that share a main idea together. It is like a Shakespearean sonnet, with three quatrains and a couplet. As this poem is very Shakespearean it also is a bit Petrarchan. Petrarchan is when the poems turn occurs after the octave as we have here in “Love is Not All”. If you look closely The Octave, which is the first eight lines, introduces the idea that love is not everything. Where as the sestet, which is the last six lines, emphasizes of the speaker’s opinion of love. Another turn during this poem was on the last line where it says, “I do not think I would” (14). Millay also uses repetition of certain words to connect all the parts of the poem in unexpected ways. Words such as: or, nor, love, and, for, and not. Also, there are a lot of alliterations throughout this poem. Alliteration adds emphasis to phrases throughout the poem. For example, the repetition of the “B” sounds in likes five and six dives home the physicality of love. The amount of “M” sounds Murmur throughout the poem though there are only a few “P” sounds, that sounds seems to emphasize each particularly important word.

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Millay’s poem “Love is Not All” not only shows what love is, but what love is not as well. This poem is very complex. The idea of love alone is complex, because love can be many things. Some people believe that love is not something you can feel or touch, but you know when love touches you, because you can feel it. The introduction of this poem is all about what love cannot do. It is not a doctor, food, or a shelter. It is not necessary for the sustaining of our human life. It does not nourish our body or protect it from the elements or mend broken bones. While the second part of this poem shows a new line of thought from Millay. It goes into the power of love. The poem reminds us that love has an incredible power over us. She begins to wonder whether she might trade love for lives necessitates. How the lack of love can tempt us to make “friends with death” (7). Even in our most “difficult hour” (9), when she is “Pinned down by pain and moaning for release” (10). Millay tells us that she “might be driven to sell your love for peace” (12) or trade her memories of “this night for food” (13). I believe that Millay seems to be coming from the idea that love is not everything, but it is important. In the first six lines, Millay gives the readers a negative definition of what love is not. The change of the flow and theme from what love is and is not causes the reader to analyze the irony. The end of this poem leaves the reader thinking: What would they do? Would they trade love when it gets bad for basic life needs? Would they give up when it gets hard? This poem is not confined to two people. It is a little more indirect as to what two lovers may face. Although, everyone may act differently when faced with issue with our love lives this poem will get you thinking as to what we would do. The ending to this poem is great because it illustrates how we are all illogical when it comes to love. Sometimes we feel that we could die of a broken heart and yet if faced with death we would not exchange the moments of intense love to save our bodies.

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Poem "Love Is Not All". (2021, Jun 30). Retrieved January 30, 2023 , from

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