Edna Millay did not intend to confuse readers by using a title that so brashly disregards love, but actually designed the title for an opportunity to establish grounds for her argument that love is a€?all.a€? This is evident because the title sets the precedent for the first six lines of the poem as they follow in similar fashion, highlighting the inadequacy of love when juxtaposed with the basic necessities for life.
Starting at line 1 and moving onward through 6, we see that Millay effectively covers everything humans require to live. Along with the notable a€?straw mana€? found in the beginning of the poem, it is important to note that the first eight lines are a part of a single sentence. Although the first eight lines of this poem establish that love is a€?all, a€? the very fact she uses irony to tell us that love is a€?alla€? raises further questions. The second half of the poem is very different from the beginning half because the lines that follow the first sentence begin to uncover Millaya€™s personal opinion about love. These lines begin with a€?It well may be, a€? which is the sign that tells us that this sentence is introducing a hypothetical situation. If we stop to take a look back on this poem, we find that it truly is not just some simple 14 line sonnet that claims, a€?Love is not alla€? (1) .
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. Vincent Millaya€™s poem a€?Love is Not All: It Is Not Meat nor Drink, a€? they would most likely get the impression that Millay harbors bitter feelings towards the idea of love. Why would Millay feel it is appropriate or necessary, to use irony in delivering her message that love is all important?


She continues to explain the specific context in how she might be put in this situation, particularly describing being a€?Pinned down by paina€? and a€?nagged by want past resolutiona€™s powera€? (10-11) .
Not only is Millay able to seamlessly incorporate both assonance and consonance within her work to deliver a message lined with poetic verse, but she is also able to seamlessly deliver a convincing argument that love is all-important.
This first impression, though, is not the product of a mistake; the imagery created by these words was purposefully designed to suggest that love is unimportant. This is a justifiable conclusion because after the words a€?Love is not alla€? the author uses a colon, which means that the lines following are simply a definition for what she means by a€?Love is not alla€? (1) .
This tactic makes it appear as though she is unsure of making a definite statement about love. The author cleverly uses this title to ask her readers a valid question: how can love be a€?alla€? if it cannot supply us with even the most basic of sustenance?
When put in such simple terms, ita€™s easy to see how this is almost indistinguishable from saying, a€?Love is not all, but it would be better to be dead than not have it.a€? I want to point out that this line of reasoning, while seemingly identical to the statement made in the previous paragraph, is actually different.
It is this uncertainty that we feel Millay battle as she chooses the lesser of two evils that make this poem wonderfully complicated within its intricacies.
Creating a question out of what seems to be a statement within the title allows the reader to foreshadow the authora€™s intended message.
The explication made here is anti-climactic while the explanation offered by the previous paragraph highlights the poetic aspects of creating a a€?straw mana€? argument in order to dramatically knock it down.


Still, ita€™s noteworthy to observe that she uses other people to establish that love is too great to live without.
Therefore, when looked at in this point of view, it starts to make sense that even though the title asserts that a€?Love Is Not All, a€? during the unfolding of the poem we find the ironic truth that love is a€?all.a€? However, the ironic fashion that this message is revealed in demonstrates that the message of a€?love is alla€? conflicts with the common thought that life is a€?all, a€? producing a poem that is wonderfully complicated within its intricacies.
By reinforcing the idea over and over again that love is useless, Millay can brilliantly restore the true importance of love by telling us it is so significant ita€™s not worth living without.
Line 7 reads: a€?Yet many a man is making friends with deatha€¦a€? Using the word a€?mana€? makes a clear distinction between Millay, who is a woman, and the actual people who are giving up their life for the a€?lack of love alonea€? (8) . Creating a scenario that does this, though, makes an ironic situation because the theme of this first sentence essentially says, a€?Love is not important, but you cana€™t live without it.a€? If Millay really meant that love was not important, then it would be fine to live without. The very concept that she uses people besides herself to show that love is a€?all, a€? begins to reveal her apprehension about making an explicit statement concerning the importance of love.
However, because it is not fine to live without, love must be important, and therefore creates an incongruity between what she is saying and what she is implying.



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