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Critical Anylasis

Essay by   •  November 25, 2010  •  Essay  •  618 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,277 Views

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1.) What lips my lips have kissed and when and why,

2.) I have forgotten, and what arms have lain

3.) Under my head till morning; but the rain

4.) Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh

5.) Upon the glass and listen for reply,

6.) And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain

7.) For unremembered lads that not again

8.) Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.

9.) Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,

10.) Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one

11.) Yet knows its boughs more silent that before

12.) I cannot say what loves have come and gone

13.) I only know that summer sang in me,

14.) A little while, that sings in me no more.

Edna St. Vincent Millay's sonnet, "What lips my lips have kissed and where and why," is about being, physically or mentally jaded, and thinking back to the torrid love of one's youth. The "ghosts" that haunt her are the many lovers of her past; she's specifically trying to remember them all. She recalls the passion she experienced and how there was a certain feeling within herself. Millay shows this through her vivid imagery, use of the rain as a literary device and by paralleling herself with a lonely tree.

The use of symbols sets the tone of the piece. She personifies the rain in, "But the rain/ Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh/ Upon the glass and listen for reply." She makes the rain into another character in the poem who is asking about her past. The rain is also a symbol of being cleansed, how the memories of one love fade away due to time and human memory or the rain can be seen as a symbol of abundance, as in the abundance of lovers, in her past asking is she remembers them at all. The seasons in the poem also can be seen as symbols of time passing in her life. Saying that in the height of her life she was much in love and knew what love was she says this all with four words "summer sang in me." And as her life is in decline



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