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William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116” and Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Love Is Not All” both attempt to define love, by telling what love is and what it is not. Shakespeare’s sonnet praises love and speaks of love in its most ideal form, while Millay’s poem begins by giving the impression that the speaker feels that love is not all, but during the unfolding of the poem we find the ironic truth that love is all. Shakespeare, on the other hand, depicts love as perfect and necessary from the beginning to the end of his poem.

Although these two authors have taken two completely different approaches, both have worked to show the importance of love and to define it. However, Shakespeare is most confident of his definition of love, while Millay seems to be more timid in defining such a powerful word. Shakespeare makes it known in the first line that he will not come between two people who are in love. He believes that love is strong enough to endure temptation and not waver. If love is altered by another, a “remover” of love, it was not love. Nor, he says, does love change when circumstances change in the third line.

He even claims that true love is not tempted: “That looks on the tempest and is never shaken” (6). Time is love’s most powerful adversary, and this is demonstrated by the capitalization of the word making it a living breathing enemy of love. However powerful Time is, Shakespeare is certain that love is still stronger. “Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks/ Within his bending sickle’s compass come. ” The reference to the sickle shows just how much of a threat Shakespeare views Time. Like Death, Time too carries his sickle waiting to steal love that is based on the loveliness of youth.

But of course true love cannot be fooled by Time. Love cannot be measured in “brief hours and weeks” (11). In the above paragraphs are listed five things that Shakespeare claims that love is not. What he does argue love to be is an “ever fixed mark” (5) “Whose worth’s unknown” (8). In these lines he is saying that love in unchanging and its value cannot be calculated. In line seven he calls love “the star to every wandering bark,” comparing it to a guiding star to lost ships. Finally, in line twelve, he says that love “bears it out even to the edge of doom. So strong is love that it will last until the last day of life. There is a fluidity to this sonnet that can be accounted to the poem’s structure. There is a primary rhyme that is dominant with stronger rhyming and a secondary that has weaker rhymes but is still powerful in meaning. Out of alignment with the other lines, but still included in the single stanza, is Shakespeare’s final declaration. So convinced is he that what he has said about love is true, he claims that if what he has stated is proven to be wrong he “never writ, nor no man ever loved” (13-14).

It is obvious to all readers that Shakespeare has written much before this and that man has loved before, so Shakespeare leaves no room for question. He has plainly listed what he believes love to be and what not to be and believes with every ounce of his being that he is correct. 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 all.

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 compared with the basic necessities for life. Millay, in an almost systematic fashion, lists all the things we need to survive that love cannot replace in the first six lines of her poem: 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… Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath, Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone.

Millay clearly tells us what we already know, love cannot feed us or give us drink, provide sleep or shelter, save a drowning man, or give us air, clean blood, or heal broken bones. These are all things that we must have in order to survive, but even though love can give us none of these things, Millay then goes on to say that many men are dying because of a lack of love: “Yet many a man is making friends with death / Even as I speak, for lack of love alone” (8-9). It important to note that the buildup of what love cannot do is necessary for the dramatic declaration that we need love regardless of how useless it may seem.

This is a cleaver ploy by Millay because although she has effectively shown how worthless love is on a physical level, she has also effectively shown how necessary love is on an emotional level. It is important to note that the first eight lines are a part of a single sentence. This is important because it means that if we remove the repeated poetic verse found within these lines, we discover that Millay is simply saying “Love is not all… / Yet many a man is making friends with death / Even as I speak, for lack of love alone” (1-8) .

This is a justifiable conclusion because after the words “Love is not all” the author uses a colon, which means that the lines following are simply a definition for what she means by “Love is not all” (1) . When put in such simple terms, it’s easy to see how this is almost indistinguishable from saying, “Love is not all, but it would be better to be dead than not have it. ” The second half of the poem is very different from the beginning half because the lines that follow the first sentence begin to uncover Millay’s personal opinion about love.

Millay is no longer describing the actions that others take regarding a lack of love, but produces a scenario in which she is forced to choose between love and life herself. These lines begin with “It well may be, ” which is the sign that tells us that this sentence is introducing a hypothetical situation. She continues to explain the specific context in how she might be put in this situation, particularly describing being “Pinned down by pain” (10) and “nagged by want past resolution’s power” (11) .

She then offers herself a solution: she could either “sell… love for peace” or “trade the memory of a night of love for food” (12-13) . Then, in the very last line, we finally get her answer: “It well may be. I do not think I would” (14) . This last line reveals everything we wanted to know about Millay’s character. She reiterates “It well may be, ” to signify that this scenario could actually happen, and then says that she doesn’t think she would give up love even if it was to release her from horrible pain or to get her food she needs to live.

Although she sounds like she is sure of her decision that love is “all, ” she purposefully places the word “think” in her statement to give meaningful insight to her true feelings. Saying she “thinks” she would not give up love exposes that she actually is a little apprehensive about making her decision of whether or not love is all. As we see, though, she does choose love as being the most important thing; it is just a difficult decision for her to make. Although the first eight lines of this poem establish that love is all, the very fact she uses irony to tell us that love is all raises further questions.

Why would Millay feel it is appropriate or necessary, to use irony in delivering her message that love is all important? This tactic makes it appear as though she is unsure of making a definite statement about love. The fact that she even suggests that life is not worth living without love tells us, at the very least, that she feels strongly about the importance of love. Still, it’s noteworthy to observe that she uses other people to establish that love is too great to live without.

Line 7 reads: “Yet many a man is making friends with death…” Using the word “man” makes a clear distinction between Millay, who is a woman, and the actual people who are giving up their life for the “lack of love alone” (8) . The very concept that she uses people besides herself to show that love is all, begins to reveal her apprehension about making an explicit statement concerning the importance of love. Both of these poems are well written and give superb definitions for a word many people have spent much effort in characterizing: “love. Both writers make their efforts by first explaining what they believe love not to be and then by telling what they do believe love to be. In the end, Shakespeare’s definition is found more believable simply because he believes in it. While Shakespeare claims that what he says is true or “I never writ, nor no man ever loved,” Millay uses phrases such as “it may be” and “I think” to make her argument. It is difficult for a reader to believe something Millay does not even seem to be sure of herself, but it is easy to be convinced of Shakespeare’s definition of love, because he also vehemently believes what he says is true.

Case Briefing 1

Review and analyze the attached court opinion and BRIEF the case. Following the format for “Case Briefing” after page 1008 (Appendix A1 – A2) [revised 27JAN2022] in your textbook.
Post your response in about 350-500 words, total.
I will be grading mainly on your characterization of the ISSUES and the COURTS REASONING.
The FACTS should be very short.