Poetry: “Love is not ALL”
Part I: Scansion and Analysis
St. Vincent Millay poetry is a sonnet love poem that tries to discuss the meaning and the underlying purpose of love based on human perspective. The speaker of this poem has a different approach where she strikes a different understanding on the issue of love. At first, the speaker argues that most people think too much of love and consider it much important and after all it cannot keep one alive, neither save one when being drowned as she quotes” Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink”, “Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink” (01-03). Afterwards the narrator of this poetry reverses her statement by arguing that one would be making friendship with death if he/she lacks an element of love in him. As the poetry progresses, the speaker tries to question if she could try to exchange love for world’s necessities in life. St. Vincent Millay poetry work is a sonnet type of poem that has fourteen lines with a rhyming regular structure and a rhyming iambic pentameter. The Rhyme scheme of this poetry captures the Shakespearean sonnet that has a three quatrains and a couplet. This sonnet also makes use of the Petrarchan sonnet forms. For instance, it is clear that this poem “love is not all” is divided into two forms with different ideas. The first part is an octave occupying the first eight lines which bring the concept showing love may not be everything and the other part is the sestet which focuses on the positive speaker’s opinion on love. The other part is the last line of the poem where the speaker does not come out clearly to define his stand, he quotes “I do not think I would” (14). The rhyme scheme for this poem is as follows from the first line to the last line of the last stanza; a, b,a,b,c,d,c,d,e,f,e,f,g,g .
Part II: Explication
The speaker of this poem tries to show that although one can simply rely on love for life, despite the fact that love has its negative part of it since it cannot offer everything needed for survival. The poet argues that love is vital, but it won’t feed you, cannot heal a sick lung neither clear an infected nor set a fractured bone. To her one can trade love for peace and also survival. According to the poet of this poem, one can sometimes give up to love in order to seek material survival since love itself cannot provide. The poem tries to balance the power and the existing gains to love and the need to seek survival. The theme of love and survival is what the narrator tries to consider and balance. He tries to communicate that although love may be an important factor, but it is not all that human beings can rely on. St. Vincent Millay tries to communicate to the reader using an ironic twist where the title of this poem is rendered ironic as the poem approaches its end. The poet shows the ironic truth that sometimes love is all that matters. To her, love is not a necessity, but an important altitude that one can’t live without. The poem ends with an ambiguous tone that tries to express deep and more doubts to the subject matter, the poet quotes “I do not think I would,” (14) but no certainty expressed by the poet that she would not do. Throughout the poem, the poet has expressed various poetic devices, for instance, there is use of alliteration that the poet uses to keep a smooth flow of the sonnet. For example “many a “many is making” (7) “lack of love alone” (8). We also have the use of imagery used by the poet to express certain feelings in the poem. For instance, the poet uses imagery to invoke a picture of the roof as it relates to rain, she quotes “a roof against the rain” (2). Other poetic device the poet uses include the use of repetition. For example “not” and “nor” (1-3, 5-6) “And rise and sink and rise and sink” (4). The most interesting part of his poem is that the poet does not communicate directly to the reader that love is all that matters. The poet first ridicules love by showing that it may not be an important factor since it cannot bring survival, but as the poem unfolds the poet puts it clear that love is all that matters by claiming that she don’t think whether she can give it out for any necessity or basic. The poet also tries to show how many people can end losing their lives in pursuit of love, she quotes “Yet many a man is making friends with death”,
“Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.”(7, 8). She claims that many people commit suicide to make it clear to the reader that love is all that matters, despite the thing in life that love can’t bring.
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