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Writing Thoughts

Love is not all

By April 12, 2015No Comments

edna st. vincent millayIt’s no easy thing to write a sonnet. I spent some amount of time in college trying. I came very close to being a classics major. I spent a lot of time translating Aeschylus and Euripedes. There’s something appealing about trying to follow a set structure of rhyme and meter. Of course, there’s a reason to write that way–the words become music. “And rise and sink and rise and sink again;” It’s harder to get musical in prose, though I remember Vanessa Vaselka thinking through just this in a craft talk at Tin House Writer’s Workshop. I wish I would have listened more closely.

Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX)

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 18921950
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.

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