American Culture · American Literature · Classic · Collection · Feminism · LGBT · Modernism · Poetry · Queer

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Sonnet IV

I know I am but summer to your heart,
And not the full four seasons of the year;
And you must welcome from another part
Such noble moods as are not mine, my dear.
No gracious weight of golden fruits to sell
Have I, nor any wise and wintry thing;
And I have loved you all too long and well
To carry still the high sweet breast of spring.

Wherefore I say: O love, as summer goes,
I must be gone, steal forth with silent drums,
That you may hail anew the bird and rose
When I come back to you, as summer comes.
Else will you seek, at some not distant time,
Even your summer in another clime.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems. (Kessinger Publishing, LLC, July 26, 2004) Originally published 1920.

3 thoughts on “Edna St. Vincent Millay

  1. My favorite sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay is “Love Is Not All.” I do not even know if I have ever posted it, but it was one of the first poems of hers I ever read.

    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.

    Classic sonnet form, 14 lines written in iambic pentameter. Notice the rhyme scheme: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG three quatrains ending with a heroic couplet.

    I guess college paid off after all. 🙂 But I already knew how to write a sonnet because it was this particular poem, that I had pointed out to someone how much I liked it, and they suggested I write sonnets and I wound up cutting my poetic teeth on Shakespeare’s sonnets and the Romantics. So much so, that at one time, and I think I can still do it if I try–write Elizabethan.

    But I have lost my muse so…

    Thank you for reading.


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