What Lips My Lips Have Kissed By Edna St. Vincent Millay

966 words - 4 pages

Edna St. Vincent Millay grew up in a small town in Maine. She was always encouraged by her mother to pursue her writing and musical talents. She finished college and moved to New York City where she lived a fast pace life pursuing acting and play writing. Her liveliness, independence, and sexuality inspired her writing styles and gave her poetry a freshness that no others had. She is famous for writing sonnets like “What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why.” This poem holds many metaphors and symbols pertaining to how certain seasons make people feel. She compares the feeling of nature with her personal feelings of being alone after having so many lovers.
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The fact that she uses the words “Til Morning” makes me think that these encounters were just one night stands. Each morning she woke up and walked away from the man that she shared the night with. She says that the raindrops on her window are the attempts of past lovers trying to contact her again. She calls the lovers that she has forgotten “ghost” because the memory of them haunts her and she knows she left many of them with broken hearts. She feels guilty for all the pain she has caused those men. She probably led them on to think that there may be something between them, yet every morning she walked away. Millay feels lonely now and longs for the type of intimacy with a man she once had. She knows that she is too old now and cannot feel the liveliness she once had in her youth. In an analysis of Millay’s poem, Norbert Schurer says, “the perfect tense indicates that this phase of her life has been completed, and the body part synecdoche of lip, arms, and head imply her distance from the experience.”
In the last few lines of “What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,” she compares herself to a tree that misses the song birds of summer, meaning her lovers. All summer long song birds sing and dance around the trees, but sooner or later winter sneaks in and the song bird’s leave. To Millay she is the lonely tree in winter, and she misses summer, or her youth, and all the men that she connected with. She writes “I only know that summer sang in me a little while, that in me sings no more.” People associate the summer season with happiness, warmth, and brightness...

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