Summary and Analysis of Love Is Not All By Edna St. Vincent Millay

Love Is Not All Poem: “Love is not all” is a magnificent poem written by poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. She is highly focused on the title of this poem. She is suggesting her readers fall in love, but only after they have considered a few facts. The poet wants everybody to assume reality when loving someone.

The poem “Love is not all” is a verse with a sestet and octave custom arrangement in the poem’s total fourteen lines. This poem is short but very much effective. Its centre has a delicate note that speaks to the significance, deepness, and momentary life of love. All these features have been explained one by one.

Students can also check the English Summary to revise with them during exam preparation.

Love Is Not All Summary

The poem lover can presuppose that the poet says each word straight to him or her regarding a note equally sensitively and mentally “suffered,” as customarily spoken in a verse. No one can understand love’s deepness. Only one is able to feel its presence and its existence. Poet takes her readers on a long journey that they might forget rarely, but almost every reader falls inside this poem.

This poem accurately showcases how clean and authentic love is to facilitate with no love you have nought. If the person has too much money and wealth but not loved ones to share or enjoy the money, then that person will feel lonely.

The poet would never buy and sell love for the tranquillity of the world or still the very foodstuff which protracts her body since with no love, and you have insignificancy. Still, the existence and being alive with no love is as useless as a broken bone. Very intellectual words have been used to describe this situation.

The poet twists this poem sarcastically by making one believe love is zilch while actually at the closing stages, she cleverly utters love is the whole thing.

Love may appear like a ridiculous, imprudent impression that cannot hoard one in a time of necessity; however, it can give one special trust and power in times of anxiety and tension.

This poem is absolutely magical in several ways. Poet has coloured this poem with lots of thoughts in it. Every poem connoisseur, especially the one who loves to read love-related poems, will repeatedly read this poem. “Love is not all” is a journey to take a break from the day-to-day schedule and visit the town of love, which the poet has tried to show.

Love Is Not All Analysis

Love Is Not All Analysis

The speaker of the poem initially discounts the value of love and argues that it cannot adequately sustain life nor satisfy the needs of anyone’s existence. However, she does understand that love has some value, especially since many people keep an eye on death “for lack of love alone” (8).

Realizing that others are willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of love, the speaker questions her own declaration on the value of it, insisting that “in a difficult hour” (9), she doubts she will be able to sell or trade her love for peace or relief.

Using the elements of traditional sonnet forms, the speaker initially can create a dismissive tone in the poem’s octave that minimizes love. However, as the poem moves forward, the tone shifts, revealing the speaker’s uncertainty about the value of love in the sestet.

Using the traditional structure of an eight-line Petrarchan octave, the speaker initially defines love by describing it for what it is actually not. According to Millay’s speaker, love “is not all” (1): It is “not meat nor drink/Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain, / Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink” (1-3).

On repetition of “not,” and “nor,” the speaker creates a dismissive tone that not only suggests that love is incapable of providing the necessities of life but that it is also inconsequential and nonessential. The speaker tries to imply that love is a luxury which cannot “fill the thickened lung with breath, / Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone” (5-6).

In essence, the speaker of the poem believes that love lacks any real or practical value, and she dismisses any value that has been assigned to it as superficial. The speaker creates a “turn” in the poem’s meaning at the end of the octave, which implies that despite the inability of love to sustain life or provide for the necessities of survival, it might actually be more valuable than life itself.

On defining what love is not in the first six lines of the octave, the poet uses the word “yet” for introducing the turn and thereby shift the meaning of the poem. In saying, “Yet many a man is making friends with death/ Even as I speak, for lack of love alone” (7-8), the speaker is able to create doubt within her own theory that love lacks value.

In fact, the use of “yet” has introduced the idea that love must have some value, especially since so many people are ready to risk their lives to attain it. On defining love by what it cannot do, the speaker suggests that it at least has the power of compelling men to die for it.

This suggests that perhaps love is more has more value than she originally thought of. In the poem’s six-line sestet, the poet changes the line of thought and delves into the speaker’s uncertain feelings towards love’s value.

The speaker contemplates whether she would sell or trade love so that she can find solace from adversity. Through the repetition of the phrase “It may well be” (9), the speaker seems to doubt whether she actually is in love with the person she refers to in the poem, which ultimately creates her doubtful tone toward love itself.

She states that “[I]t may well be” when she is “pinned down by need and moaning for release or nagged by want past resolution’s power” (10-11) that she may be compelled to sell love or trade the memories of it for survival.

The vagueness of the phrase “It may well be,” the speaker emphasizes throughout the sestet her ambivalence toward the Love’s value. However, her ambivalence is not fully stressed until the unexpected Shakespearean couplet at the end of the poem.

In the final line of the poem, the speaker states that “It may well be” (14) that she would not sell or trade her love to survive, but her ambiguous statement of “I do not think I would” casts some doubt over whether she would exchange love for life.

By stating that she does not believe that she would sell or trade love to survive, the speaker reveals that even though she may define the value of love in an objective way for others, she cannot describe it for herself with any degree of certainty or impartiality, thus revealing her ambivalence toward it.

While the speaker in the start provides a general definition for love which objectively defines it as not being as essential as the necessities of life or life itself, she, however, does reveal that love has some value by the end of the poem.

Many people have assigned value to love willingly to die in their pursuit of it. Still, the speaker shows some hesitancy in committing to this concept, asserting that she is unsure if she would sell or trade her love for survival.

It is through this that the reader is made aware of the speaker’s ambivalent tone toward the value of love and is led to understand in the end that love is perhaps more valuable than life itself.

What is the theme of the poem Love is not all?

The most prominent theme presented in Love is not all is that although love is not a necessity of life, it somehow manages to provoke such great desire and happiness that it becomes important. The poem begins with a negative view of love by comparing it to essential items such as food, sleep, and shelter.

What is the meaning of love is not all?

Title. The theme of the poem is the infinite mystery of love. … She shows that even she, being aware of the relative unimportance of love, would put it before peace or even food if she was starving. The theme of Love is Not All is that love, while not being immediately crucial to survival, is central to human life.

What does the poem Love is not all about love being not everything?

The speaker in Edna St. Vincent Millay’s sonnet “Love Is Not All” describes reality and crushes the fairy tale belief that love brings infinite happiness and solves all problems. … This situation suggests that love cannot be a form of aid in some of life’s most crucial situations, no matter how many chances arise.

What is the metaphor in love is not all?

Metaphor: ‘Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink’, ‘love can not fill the thickened lung with breath’, ‘nor clean the blood’, ‘nor set the fractured bone’ and many more. Edna also describes Love as an object that can be sold. Personification: ‘yet many a man is making friends with death’.