Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Love is not all

image courtesy of .bobby on Flickr

A student once asked my why so many famous American writers have three names: Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charlotte Perkins Gilman ... and so on. Because I'm rich with knowledge of all things literary, I answered, "I don't know."

But I do know that the best and most romantic three-name name in American literature is Edna St. Vincent Millay. So regal and romantic. So dreamy and literary. A name made for a writer.

As February approaches and my children struggle to decide which cartoon character will deliver their messages of love and friendship, I've been thinking about more earnest ways to express devotion. And I remembered this Edna St. Vincent Millay sonnet, one of my favorite poems ever, which seemed to fit just right with a striking image (posted above) that I recently came across on Flickr.

And Millay was born in February, so here's homage to the first American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and some inspiration for Valentine's Day.

Love is Not All
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

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.

1 comment:

  1. St. Vincent Millay---the name, the body of work, the life she led--it's all so romantic, dramatic, and you're right---just made for a writer!

    studied her poems in school and still go back to them when i'm feeling moody and literary :)



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