Millay includes literary concepts, such as the presence of a speaker, tone, vocabulary, sounds of language, figurative language, alliteration, and structure, to make the sonnet more involved and substantial. The most logical place to start studying the poem is the speaker. The poem written in the first person reveals that the speaker remembers how he or she becomes unable to remember “loves” of the past. Given that the sonnet written in the first person, the reader is, the speaker. The tense is clearly noted because all lines except the last include words in the past tense, such as “kissed” (Millay 1), “unremembered” (Millay 7), and “sang” (Millay 13). The last line of the poem immediately swerves to the present tense with the word “sings” (Millay 14). This shift in tenses signifies the poem allows the speaker to dream of the past and, considering the gloomy vocabulary, the speaker is depressed about how the past has touched the present. Thi...
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...the sestet is also one sentence. The lapse separating the octave and the sestet also serve as a shift in the poem, after the break in the verse, it becomes deeply reflective and more remorseful. Together all of these literary concepts allow the reader to become the speaker in only fourteen lines of poetry.
Millay’s sonnet, “What lips my lips have kissed,” grows further involved and meaningful through the use of literary concepts. These profoundly dark and clouded sentiments highlighted in the demeanor of a speaker, the tone, sounds of language, vocabulary, figurative language, and structure used. These literary concepts would not have been as imperative as it is in delivering the speaker’s sentiments to the reader. Any artist who applies color, texture, medium, and space to bring their pieces of art to life in as much a poet must use these kinds of literary concepts.
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