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Analysis and comments on An Ancient Gesture by Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Comment 10 of 160, added on December 1st, 2005 at 7:41 AM.

I think there is more to the gesture than love or crying. The poem mentions
"Ulysses did this too./ But only as a gesture". If the gesture is
love, than Ulysses is simply doing it as if it is no big deal--I don't
think the poem is trying to get a message across like that. A gesture most
nearly means a movement of the part of the body, esp. a hand or the head to
express an idea or meaning. Ulysses is very much in love with
Penelope--thus why he returns home after all the sumptuous temptations he
encounters on his voyage, so why would he show just a small movement of his
love to appease the throng? Or maybe I am just not understanding the poem.

codes from United States
Comment 9 of 160, added on November 20th, 2005 at 2:33 PM.

Like Melanie, I believe the ancient gesture is one of crying, or maybe
love. However, I think that this refers to the scene of the Odyssy,
reflecting Penelope's loyalty in hoping that Odysseus will come home one

Kathy from United States
Comment 8 of 160, added on November 16th, 2005 at 12:22 PM.

The gesture she refers to is the act of crying. However, I don't think
this poem implies that the modern-day husband is at war...perhaps he just
left, or perhaps they are divorced. I would even suggest that Ulysses
represents all men and Penelope all women.
She is really commenting on a universal pattern which is unfortunately tied
to gender roles: those who leave, and those left behind.

Melanie from United States
Comment 7 of 160, added on November 15th, 2005 at 4:27 PM.

What is the gesture she is talking about?

Gianna from United States
Comment 6 of 160, added on March 2nd, 2005 at 7:29 PM.

Hey, I have to memorize this poem and recite it in school tomorrow i only
know all of it! Isnt that terrible!!!!!!

sade from United States
Comment 5 of 160, added on February 1st, 2005 at 8:20 PM.

Well, Millay is comparing her husband going off to a present-day war to
Penelope, King Ulysses's wife. The bit about weaving all day and undoing it
all night refers to when she promises her suitors to consider marriage when
she completes her tapestry. She obviously doesn't want to marry any one of
them, so she undos all of her work. Hope that helps...and hope it wasn't
too late. If you need any more info, just email me.

Mage from United States
Comment 4 of 160, added on January 20th, 2005 at 4:40 PM.

Kyle, you think that you could elaborate on how exactly Ulysseus has been
involved in the story line of this poem? I have an analysis paper due in a
few days on this poem.. I absolutely love it, but need a bit more info in
order to go in depth with it. Would be appreciated really. Thanks..!

Hena from United States
Comment 3 of 160, added on January 20th, 2005 at 4:28 PM.

To Kyle, why so negative? Even if the girl didn't understand the poem
fully, she was moved by it and that counts for quite a bit. Calling her
"stupid" is not cool.

judy from United States
Comment 2 of 160, added on January 1st, 2005 at 4:02 PM.

Srry but this poem is not about violence...geese where did you get that? He
is sleeping with other women and he cries but not with feeling. She cries
because she misses him and she truly cares about him. Nowhere does it talk
about violence. Odysseus (Ulysses) is a nice guy, he would not hurt
Penelope. He came back to be with her again, not to hurt her. stupid

Kyle from United States
Comment 1 of 160, added on November 28th, 2004 at 9:11 PM.

This Poem es very good because it has alot of thruth in it. Alot of women
suffer of domestic violence but the men is the one how suffers thats not
right and this poem is very good.

Samantha from United States

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Information about An Ancient Gesture

Poet: Edna St. Vincent Millay
Poem: An Ancient Gesture
Added: Feb 21 2003
Viewed: 519 times

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