Love Is Not All, or Is It?

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Dr. Patricia CoveJeremie Lagace
ANGL 1163: Introduction to English II
Essay #1, Winter 2013
Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Love is Not All”
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;
5Love can not fill 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,
10 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.

Part I: Paraphrase the Poem.

Love isn’t everything, it’s not food, beverages, sleep and it sure won’t act as a roof against the rain. Love cannot offer a sinking man in peril a life-saving “floating spar”. As he rises, he sinks, only to rise and sink again. Love cannot give the air we need to fill our “thickened lung”, it can not clean blood or heal broken bones. Yet for all the things love can’t do, a man without love is a man “making friends with death”. The lack of love alone in a difficult hour will pin you down by pain, whine for release or harass you by the power of past resolution’s. One might be driven to sell love for peace, trade their memories for a meal, but never give up love even if it was to release horrible pains or to get food to live.

Part II: Scan the Poem.
/ = stressed syllable
^ = unstressed syllable
\ = half-stressed syllable
|| = significant pause

^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / |
1Love is not all: it is not meat nor drinkA
^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / |
2Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;B
^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / |
3Nor yet a floating spar to men that sinkA

^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / |
4And rise and sink and rise and sink again;B
^ / | ^ /| ^ /| ^ / | ^ / |
5Love can not fill thickened lung with breath,C
^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / |
6Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;D
^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ ^ / |
7Yet many a man is making friends with deathC
^ / | ^ / | / ^ | / ^ | ^ ^ / |
8Even as I speak, for lack of love aloneD
^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / |^ / | ||
9It well may be that in a difficult hour,E
^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / |
10Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,F
^ / | ^ / | ^ /| ^ / | ^ /| ||
11Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,E
^ / | ^ / | ^ ^ / | ^ / | ^ / |
12I might be driven to sell your love for peace,F
^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ ^ / |
13Or trade the memory of this night for foodG

^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / | ^ / |
14It well may be I do not think I would. G
* Line 1-6 are composed with Iambic pentameters, which are ten syllables for each line in five Iambic pairs. * Line 7 is mostly Iambic with the last feet being Anapest. * Line 8 is the most complexe, the foot division are: Iamb, Iamb, Trochee, Trochee, Anapest. * Line 9-11 are composed with Iambic pentameters as well, line 9 and 11 both have a significant pause at the end. * Line 12 has 4 feet of Iamb and one feet of Anapest directly in the middle. * Line 13 has 4 feet of Iamb ended with a...
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