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Comment 10 of 60, added on May 2nd, 2005 at 11:19 AM.
Millay writes in her journal, “What life I have lived I have lived doubly,
actually and symbolically” (Epstein 91). At that time, Millay was living
two lives, the grown up life with Arthur Hooley and her school life with
the women she was sexually involved with. Epstein writes, “Then there was
her sex life on campus, which she pursued with gusto, with ingenuity, with
a vengeance. Does that sound like a strong, independent woman to you? Yes!
How many women in that time would have been so open with their sexuality?
Not many. I find that Millay must have been torn though, between her two
lives. The two lives she was living were very different, but I believe that
Millay liked it that way, because it was risky. Millay lived on the edge of
Millay in her youth loved her life. She had relations with men and women.
Millay looks back on her past life in the poem “What Lips My Lips Have
Kissed.” No wonder she says, “And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain /
For unremembered lads that not again” (6-7). She remembers the sexual
experiences of her past and realizes that they are past, and may not come
again. She is sorrowful, feeling a “quiet pain.” I read that Millay was
married in 1923, the same year that she wrote this poem. Maybe Millay was
sad because she was going to say goodbye to the excitement of her past. It
then raised the question, if she is so sad to leave her past behind, why is
she? Was it the pressure of society? I can’t imagine lesbianism being
accepted in her time, so was she marrying to please society? I also can not
see Millay doing this. In her poems and journals you see a strong and
independent woman, someone who doesn’t conform to society, so then why
Coleen from United States
Comment 9 of 60, added on April 15th, 2005 at 4:06 PM.
This poem is very symbolic of the authors life. She is indeed just getting
married, but it is because at the time of her lifestyle (1923) she cannot
do what she wants as a female author. She needs a financial head as well as
a male head so she will be more accepted socially.
The poem seems to say that she is trying to find true love. Because her
parents divorced when she was eight years old, she has never had the
opportunity to find love and is always looking for it in sex with females
or males. Having many lovers does not bring happiness, especially when the
glorious life fades away and all she is left with is the memories that
haunt her. She is desperately alone when she is first married, and is still
alone when she dies in 1950, drunk, at the top of her staircase in
Steepletop. Sexual love dies, as she says, and so does the soul.
Shay from Ireland
Comment 8 of 60, added on March 27th, 2005 at 7:26 AM.
Wistfully looking back on one's youthful promiscuity---this must have blown
their minds in 1923. I found it intensely moving, for how many of us wasted
our youth and failed to see that a sexual wasteland might lie ahead. I
think the image of the poet as a lonely tree, "boughs more silent than
before," puts this poem up with the great sexual sonnets of the 17th
century. This is not a plea to young people, but the dreadful warning is
there. For a man's comment on this age-old dilemma, see Robert Herrick's
"Gather Ye Rosebuds", and the delicious 1909 oil painting of the same title
by RW Waterhouse.
Brian from Hungary
Comment 7 of 60, added on March 15th, 2005 at 1:52 PM.
Ok, after reading this poem sever hundred times, I have fully believe that
this poem is about a woman reminiscing on her promiscuous youth and how she
misses the feelings of being free spirited in her relationships without
commitments and understands the past is gone and learns to cope with the
Key notes of interpitations:
First couple of lines is about her past, her reminiscing on her past.
"ghosts","birds",= past lovers. Also she uses metaphors of the changing
seasons to the changes of her life. Summer = her promiscous youth, Winter
= herself now,being alone with all her lovers gone and forgotten. And last
She learns to accepts the changes.. "summer sang in me a little while"
"that in me sangs no more."= the good times have come a little while and
**I hope this helps all of you last minute students like myself**
Dan Nguyen from United States
Comment 6 of 60, added on February 14th, 2005 at 2:46 PM.
I believe this poem not only expresses a "good-bye" to youth but also it
shows an anticipation of the future---a "I'm not going to go back down that
road again" attitude. I think it also is a yearning for the "simpler"
times and a regret that things change, people change, love changes.....
from United States
Comment 5 of 60, added on December 16th, 2004 at 8:21 AM.
It's an original italian sonnet, written in iambic pentameter.
And, as everybody can see, the speaker is female.
Millay used metaphors, like "the lonely tree"(--> she/ her heart is the
lonely tree) or the "birds that vanished one by one"(--> all her lads that
have gone now).
She also uses allusions. In line eight, there's a sexual allusion:
"[...]turn to me at midnight with a cry[...]" --> that's supposed to be an
In line nine, we have a turning point: "[...] Nor knows what birds[...]".
The speaker changes her mood. She recognizes her sadness about the silence
and the lonelyness that surrounds her.
I found out, that Millay, in her younger years, had many affairs and
relationships to both sexes, male and female.
She realy seemed to enjoy her life.
On the 18th of July 1923, she got married. This poem is also written in
1923. To my mind, this poem is a kind of "good by" to her earlier life. Now
that she will marry soon, there will be no more men/women than just one in
her life. The summer that she felt, before is leaving and the cold winter
rests in her heart now.
Comment 4 of 60, added on November 30th, 2004 at 9:11 AM.
I Think it was very well done, and its speaks to me in some way!
from United States
Comment 3 of 60, added on November 12th, 2004 at 10:55 AM.
The poem is about being old, physically old or metally jaded, and thinking
back to the torid love of one's youth. The "ghosts" that haunt her are the
many lovers of her past. She's trying to specifically remember them all,
but she's just experiencing that vague terrain called memory. She
remembers the passion she experienced and how there was a certain feeling
within herself, a summertime of life, that is there no more.
from United States
Comment 2 of 60, added on November 6th, 2004 at 5:05 AM.
i need to analiysis too its doingmy head it i also need to compare it
witheaster monday by
from United Kingdom
Comment 1 of 60, added on November 5th, 2004 at 11:36 AM.
i need help with this poem analiysis.(wht lips my lips have kissed, and
where, and why.)also i need to write an essay.
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