February 9, 2013

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry

Edna St. Vincent Millay, who grew up in Rockport, wrote some of the great sonnets of our literature. For Valentine’s week, here’s one of her best-known and most moving.

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine poet laureate.

Love Is Not All: It Is Not Meat Nor Drink

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 1931, 1958 by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Norma Millay Ellis. Reprinted by permission of Holly Peppe, literary executor, The Millay Society. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, special assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at 207-228-8263 or poetlaureate@mainewriters.org.

By 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 can not 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 may well be. I do not think I would.
 

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