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Edna St. Vincent Millay Recuerdo Summary

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In the poem Recuerdo, by Edna St. Vincent Millay, New York takes the backseat. Unlike many NYC based poems, the primary focus of this poem is not on the city itself, but on the people. Recuerdo focuses on the mind of one person, who, like the title implies, is trying to remember. Despite being drunk, her few hazy memories suggest a happy night spent with a lover, adventuring around the city. The poem is vague and fast-paced, intentionally replicating the state of the speaker’s mind, but the speaker is trying to fight the mental fog, trying to remember. Millay combines repetition, structure, and alliteration in Recuerdo to describe a night in New York, and to show the process of trying to recall those barely remembered activities. Repetition is integral to Recuerdo. In the poem, Millay starts each stanza with the lines, “We were very tired, we were very merry — We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.” Given the brevity of the poem, only eighteen lines long, these lines must be particularly important for Millay to choose to repeat them every stanza. Just glancing at the poem, the repetition seems to detract from possible content, but in reality it deepens its meaning by drawing the readers…show more content…
That flow further facilitates the fog that befalls the mind of the speaker in the poem. The alliteration connects the stanzas together, but the shortness of the alliterative passages keeps the events distinct, separating them out and creating a timeline to aid in remembering. The “bare and bright” ferry blends into the stanza, connected by the alliterative verbs “looked… leaned…[and] lay.” In the next stanza the phrases “ate an apple,” “went wan,” and “came cold” add a pulse to the verses. The alliteration concludes in the last stanza with “Good marrow, mother,” almost as if the alliteration ends as the morning begins; chronicling the night to preserve the remaining
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