Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On Edna and "Love Is Not All"

A recording of the poet reading this poem moved me to tears (twice) today. If you can get your mitts on volume one of A Century of Recorded Poetry (try the library... as if you hadn't thought of that already), do it. The recording of this poem is nicely sandwiched between some Marianne Moore and a bit of e. e. cummings. Reading the sonnet, which you are perhaps about to do, is quite nice--but listening to Millay read it will bring tears to your eyes.

Love Is Not All
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 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 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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