The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of Edna St Vincent Millay Sonnets. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.
A sonnet is a poem that always has fourteen lines. There are two types of sonnet; the Pertrachan and the Shakespearean. “What lips my lips have kissed”, is a Petrarchan by Edna St Vincent Millay. This means that it is made up of either a sestet and an octet or an octet and a sestet.
In this case it is an octet and a sestet. “Pity me not” also by Edna St Vincent Millay is a Shakespearean sonnet, this means that it is made up of three quatrains and one couplet at the end. “How do I love thee? ” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning is a Petrarchan and is made up of sestet and an octet.
All of these three sonnets have been written in different ways but are all equally meaningful.
Edna St. Vincent Millay was born in Rockland, Maine on February 22nd 1892. Her mother, Cora encouraged Edna St Vincent Millay and her three sisters to be ambitious and self-sufficient, teaching them an appreciation of music and literature from an early age. Edna St. Vincent Millay began to write poetry from a young age, and became very involved with theatre. Edna St Vincent Millay was a feminist, which was reflected in her poetry.
Edna St Vincent Millay continued to write poetry throughout her life until she died in 1950. Elizabeth Moulton-Barrett was born March 6, 1806 at Coxhoe Hall, Durham, England.
She was the eldest of 12 children of an autocratic father, who forbade his children to marry. Elizabeth was educated at home, learning Greek, Latin, and several modern languages, including Portuguese at an early age. She began writing whilst very young, and in 1819, her father arranged for the printing of one of her poems (she was 13 at the time).
She met Robert Browning and because her father disapproved of marriage, Elizabeth and Robert were secretly wed in 1846. She died on June 29th, 1861 at the age of 55. Elizabeth Barrett-Browning was buried in the old Protestant Cemetery in Florence. Her son and husband then returned to England. The most obvious similarity is that “Love” is the subject in all three of the sonnets. In the sonnet “What lips my lips have kissed”, Edna St. Vincent Millay brings across the message that if you want to be a woman, you have to be loved and cared for by a male.
In this sonnet, the women are portrayed as very insecure and lost without the affection of men, whereas Elizabeth Barrett Browning shows love as a bond between men and women. In the sonnet “How do I love thee? ” the poem is addressed to her lover, and so as a result of this is, very intimate, deep, personal and most of all, unartifical. Edna St. Vincent Millay uses very negative images of love, such as sorrow, loss and insecurity, “And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain”, whereas Elizabeth uses the positive images of pure, eternal love and happiness, “I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life! “What lips my lips have kissed”, tells the reader that without men her life is empty. She shows this using the images of a tree – in the summer she was happy because she was with him, in the summer the trees are happy because they are full of singing birds but in the winter when the trees are bare and there are no birds singing she is unhappy because her man i. e. the birds have left her. “Thus the winter stands the lonely tree, nor knows its boughs more silent than before: I cannot say what loves have come and gone; I only know that summer sang in me”.
Poets and sonneteers use the seasons a lot to represent emotions, For example, spring represents youth, summer is the middle of your life when you encounter the best experiences and Autumn is the decline to old age, i. e. winter in which things start to become bad, and Winter is your all time low old age and death. Elizabeth Barrett Browning does not however use these images in “How do I love thee? “, she sticks to the images of religion and G-d, “With my lost saints, – and in G-d choose, I shall but love thee better after death. This emphasises purity and faith to her love. “Pity me not”, tells the reader not to pity her or to feel sorry for her because the sky gets dark at night, “Pity me not because the light of day at close of day no longer walks the sky”. Not to feel sorry for her because the seasons change and the world goes on, “Pity me not for beauties passed away from field and thicket as the year goes by”. Not to pity her because he fell out of love with her “Nor that a man’s desire is hushed so soon”.
Not to pity her because love is easy to find and easy to loose, “Love is no more than the wide blossom which the wind assails”. But DO feel sorry for her because her heart doesn’t work with her head, and so she is therefore nai? ve, “Pity me that the heart is slow to learn what the swift mind beholds at every turn”. “Pity me not” uses images of nature “From field and thicket”. It also uses the image of blossom, which represents fragility. The sea is also used to show a clear image of the tide coming and going, just as love does, “Nor than the ebbing tide goes out to sea”.
All of the three poems use a pentameter to enhance the seriousness of the sonnet and love. The sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning is very personalised. Barrett Browning uses religion as an image of how much she loves him, because she used to love G-d and now she loves him. Elizabeth uses the rule of three, “I love thee freely… , I love thee purely… ,and I love thee with the passion put to use in my old griefs… “. When she says; “I love thee… ” this very definite and assertive list of how much she loves him is so we don’t doubt her love.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning is definitely in love, conversely, to Edna St Vincent Millay who doubts love. Elizabeth Barrett Browning uses lots of common nouns, because she wants love to be shown how she feels it really is, and by using phrases such as “I love thee with the passion put to use”, which gives her emotion an image. Similarly Edna, also uses images to help the reader understand how she feels. Elizabeth Barrett Browning uses more physical images e. g. “passion” then Edna St Vincent Millay.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning begins talking about her soul and how she loves this man to eternity. This shows how we can’t measure how large her love is. Elizabeth Barrett Browning uses images of sun and candlelight, which gives me the impression that he is her everlasting light and he provides all the light she needs. Elizabeth ends her sonnet with the quote,” I shall love thee better after death”, which gives the reader an impression that her love grows stronger with age and that nothing can ever separate them, not even death.
All three sonnets use lots of rhetorical devices. Both Edna and Elizabeth use repletion “Pity me not… , Pity me not… ” and the rule of three is shown in “I love thee”. These make the phrase stick in your head and enhance their ideas and the depth of Elizabeth’s love. The sonnets “What lips my lips have Kissed” and ” How do I love thee”, both begin with the rhyme A, B, B, A. This gives the sonnet a musical feel. The tone of “How do I love thee? ” is one of adoration. She is almost singing to him because she has a religious feeling towards him.
The poem is very mysterious because we don’t have any idea of what “he” looks like or acts like so he remains in our imagination. Perhaps Elizabeth Barrett Browning could have done this so that her love remained a secret from her father. All three of the sonnets are a personal interpretation of love and lust. What ever you believe in, whether it is love at first sight, real love or lust, the three sonnets I have chosen express personal views of what Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Edna St Vincent Millay believe is the real truth behind love.