My thanks are due to Rajat Sharma for introducing me to this poem:
(Poem #860) Sonnet: 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. Love cannot 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 need 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 may well be. I do not think I would.
"Monday burn Millay, Wednesday Whitman, Friday Faulkner, burn 'em to ashes, then burn the ashes. That's our official slogan." -- Ray Bradbury, "Fahrenheit 451" I read Bradbury's classic cautionary tale long before I had even heard of Millay, but I assumed (given the august company she was placed in) that she was a writer of note. Unfortunately, the first few poems of hers that I came across were remarkably unremarkable, and so I added Millay to my list of Poets Whom Other People Like. That categorization has changed, though, and I think it was today's poem which changed it. The tinge of desperation that colours even her most romantic offerings is present, of course, but there's something else as well: a compression of thought and word and deed, a _concentration_ reminiscent of no one so much as the early Dylan Thomas. The relentless flow of metaphors in the opening three lines, the density of syllables in the wonderful third couplet, the desolation of the sestet - they're all handled with consummate craftsmanship, and they come together to form a whole that unequivocally _works_. The twist right at the end is typical. The lines preceding it are dark, yes, but where some writers would have been cynical, Millay's tone is one of experience refined by sorrow. She knows first-hand what love can and cannot do, and that knowledge makes her final, defiant affirmation of its importance all the more poignant and powerful. Love is not everything, but it does not need to be; what it is, is enough. thomas. [Minstrels Links] Edna St. Vincent Millay: Poem #34, First Fig Poem #49, The Unexplorer Poem #108, The Penitent Poem #317, Inland Poem #590, Sonnet XLIII Poem #604, Euclid Alone Has Looked On Beauty Bare Poem #817, Grown-up Walt Whitman: Poem #54, When I heard the Learn'd Astronomer Poem #157, O Captain! My Captain! Poem #268, The Dalliance of the Eagles Poem #246, I Hear America Singing Poem #445, A Noiseless Patient Spider Poem #498, The World Below the Brine Poem #508, I saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing