Analysis Of Love Is Not All

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Written by Edna St. Vincent Millay, the poem “Love Is Not All” is a poem that is written in such a manner that makes the reader think twice about its message. Obviously about the topic of love, Millay writes this from personal thoughts and experiences. Equaling fourteen lines of rhymed iambic pentameter, "Love Is Not All" is in the form of a sonnet. In all, the poem only consists of four sentences, and the author combines components of the two most common sonnet forms in poetry; Shakespearean and Petrarchan. In this particular poem, Millay uses the rhyme scheme of a typical Shakespearean sonnet. Usually the Volta of a Shakespearean sonnet occurs after three quatrains, yet the turn in "Love Is Not All" is found after the eighth line, which divides the poem into two sections: the octave and the sestet. This division is commonly found in Petrarchan sonnets (Tomlinson 9). This poem exhibits the authors view on love through its message that love is of secondary importance. This message is sent to the reader through comparisons that show that love cannot replace physical needs. While the speaker seems to be cynical about the idea of love, it becomes apparent that she is uncertain if she would indeed give up love for basic necessities. This message is accentuated by the use of poetic devices including rhyme, repetition, and alliteration. Using the first eight lines of “Love Is Not All,” the author exemplifies multiples points about all that love cannot do for a person. The speaker goes on to say that love is neither food nor sleep, that it cannot provide shelter for a person, and does not have healing powers. All of these are basic necessities that a human being needs to survive, intending connection to the title. In lines five and s... ... middle of paper ... ...ardship and means of survival for her love. During the sonnet, Millay’s speaker seems pessimistic about the intangible idea of love, but the sestet shows irony in her message. The last line of the poem turns her point of view. Instead of carrying on the theme that love is not everything, she leads the audience to believe that internally, she believes that love is indeed important and necessary for the human soul to survive. The intention of this sonnet to change the reader’s perspective on love, and what it actually does for us. Society portrays love as an essential element in our lives and that it should precede over all priorities. Millay challenges this idea by the comparisons she makes and the overall tone of the poem. While she does not completely dismiss the importance of love, the speaker relays the message quite vigorously, that love, in fact, is not all.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how millay's poem "love is not all" makes the reader think twice about its message. the poem is written from personal thoughts and experiences.
  • Analyzes how millay uses the rhyme scheme of a typical shakespearean sonnet in "love is not all."
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