Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Use Of Sonnet Style In “

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Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Use of Sonnet Style In “Love Is Not All” The sonnet is one of the best-known forms of poetry in the Western world. It is a poem that has fourteen lines in iambic pentameter with ten syllables per line and carefully follows a defined rhyme scheme. There are several different types of sonnet styles with varied rhyme schemes, but one of the most recognizable is the English, or Shakespearean sonnet. This particular sonnet form has three quatrains and an ending couplet. It generally follows the rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg. At its heart, the Shakespearean sonnet is ultimately an argument and this particular way of delivering the argument is powerfully persuasive. Many poets use the three quatrains of the sonnet to deliver points pertaining to a conflict and in the ending couplet the poet can resolve the conflict or offer a comment or summary statement. Edna St. Vincent Millay effectively uses the Shakespearean sonnet form in “Love is Not All” to present and argue the need, complexities, and ideology of love. The entire sonnet questions the idea of whether or not love is necessary for survival. The poem starts out by characterizing love as abstract and having little to do with immediate physical needs. In the first quatrain, Millay speaks of all the things that love cannot do. In lines 1 and 2, Millay eloquently states, “Love is not all; it is not meat nor drink / Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain.” These lines reflected the fact that love cannot meet man’s basic needs for survival. Love cannot protect us from the elements, stave off hunger, or provide us with peaceful sleep. In the second quatrain, Millay begins with more things that love cannot accomplish, but then begins to reveal her value of love and contradicts her initial feelings. The turning point of the poem is in the seventh line. “Yet many a man is making

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