A Poem for a Thursday #3


When I was a child there was a fat, blue volume of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poetry on our bookshelves. I would dip in and out of it, caught by the language and the rhythm. I did not always care (and still don't) about exactly what the poems meant but she made words into music and that I loved. Millay wrote a huge amount of poetry. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923. I have a biography of her on my shelves somewhere that I should read soon.  I was tempted to use a favorite poem of hers that I memorized as a child but I am saving that for another day. I also was tempted to use a very sad poem of hers that I read three times in a row when I just came across it but that is for another day as well. For today, we have a poem about love- a stereotypical topic but not a stereotypical poem.

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX)
Edna St. Vincent Millay

4 comments

  1. I do not think you would.

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  2. I have always loved this poem and it resonates today. I still have the book, and find new things in it as life brings changes.

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  3. What exquisite beauty in words! Thank you

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