Only until this cigarette is ended,
A little moment at the end of all,
While on the floor the quiet ashes fall,
And in the firelight to a lance extended,
Bizarrely with the jazzing music blended,
The broken shadow dances on the wall,
I will permit my memory to recall
The vision of you, by all my dreams attended.
And then adieu,—farewell!—the dream is done.
Yours is a face of which I can forget
The color and the features, every one,
The words not ever, and the smiles not yet;
But in your day this moment is the sun
Upon a hill, after the sun has set.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem Sonnets 04: Only Until This Cigarette Is Ended


  1. katelin says:

    This poem creates lots of strong ideas, that i may or may not have understood correctly, however poetry is your own interpretaition so i will procide with what this poem emphasises to me. Sadness battles throughout this poem comparing the task of a cigarette, to the task of love, comparing a memory to the short life as the “ashes fall”. The amount of symbolism creates a strong opinion of love not lasting forever. The alliteration creates a dominiring view on how quickley the happines of the cigarette and love to the end of what feels like a dream, only a “memory”: “dream is done”. I think it is a sad poem that conflicts alot of painful feelings that some people don’t want to face, how ever in reality it may seem as a dream, to love and to not commit to a relationship and the reality it might be easy to have an affair: “the sun is set.” It is a powerful poem with many different depths that can be interpreted and can be very thought provoking

  2. Amelia Fairley says:

    I have always enjoyed the blatant imagery of this poem. As a high school English teacher, I use it in my classroom to demonstrate visual, auditory, gustatory, kinaesthetic, etc. imagery to students. For some reason the sheer cattiness that seems so obvious in first reading Millay’s poetry appeals to my student readers. I try to capitalize on that in an effort to get them to delve deeper into the speaker’s psyche in order to see that the woman speaker truly does hurt but is perhaps prohibited by social conventions or prohibits herself from reacting in a manner that would appear unseemly.

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