Well, I have lost you; and I lost you fairly;
In my own way, and with my full consent.
Say what you will, kings in a tumbrel rarely
Went to their deaths more proud than this one went.
Some nights of apprehension and hot weeping
I will confess; but that’s permitted me;
Day dried my eyes; I was not one for keeping
Rubbed in a cage a wing that would be free.
If I had loved you less or played you slyly
I might have held you for a summer more,
But at the cost of words I value highly,
And no such summer as the one before.
Should I outlive this anguish—and men do—
I shall have only good to say of you.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem Well, I Have Lost You


  1. Donna Hill says:

    I had you once, but I haveyou now no more. What poem is this from?

  2. Lesli says:

    “A poem should not mean but be”
    Archibald MacLeish

  3. Kaatrien says:

    This poem should resonate with anyone who has felt something regretfully come to an end.

    Those incredible lines “kings in a tumbrel rarely
    Went to their deaths as proud as this one went”, Kings going to execution could not have had more pride than she.

    If you know anything of Edna st Vincent’s proud/aloof/detatched character [a king’s] you can see how she attempted to meet this ending [for her a true internal death/loss] with some semblance of dignity and ‘self preservation’.

    Indeed she does somehow “in her own way” by giving her “full consent”- she is trying to reduce the injury to her pride.

    Asserting the natural freedom in them both,she states “I was not one for keeping rubbed to a cage a wing that would be free” she would not hold to a ‘love’ that could not be contained or had.

    Reflecting that if her feelings were more shallow “If I had loved you less, or played you slyly” she would have been able to go on falsely and conceal her real state or feelings.But at the cost of truth or “words I value highly” adding that such a charade would bear no resemblance to a purer time or “summer before”.

    She survives her loss to say that “Day dried my eyes” and goes on to suggest that she might “outlive this” that after all “men do”.Here she is attempting to have the last word and is both wounded and defiant.

    At the end of the poem this sense of self preservation she remarks will allow no bitterness,it will leave only good things “to say of you”.

  4. Jenni says:

    “Why is Fatal Interview NOT on this site?”

    is what I intended to inquire.

  5. Jenni says:

    Karli is correct.
    As quoted here from http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/m_r/millay/millay_life.htm:

    “He (Boissevain) catered to her whims and even condoned her having an occasional lover. One, George Dillon, who was fourteen years her junior and whom she met in 1928 while giving a reading at the University of Chicago, inspired Fatal Interview (1931), a 52-sonnet sequence. In one sonnet she snarls: “Love me no more, now let the god depart, / If love be grown so bitter to your tongue!”

    So, this definitely is not Fatal Interview as it does not consist of 52 sonnets and does not contain the above text.

    However…why is a copy of the TRUE Fatal Interview on this site?

  6. Karli says:

    Why do you think that the title of this poem is Fatal Interview? Nowhere does it say that that is the real title, not to mention, Well, I Have Lost You is in the literature book in my hand titled Well, I Have Lost You, and that that is what it is titled EVERYWHERE from the internet to the actual book. You my friend, are wrong.

    • Janice Hambor says:

      Guys, this is a feminist poem which grants both grace and agency to its female protagonist, by owning her suffering but denying its stigma of female branded emotionalism. The line “and men do’ set aside in em dashes, equates the male experience with the female experience of love and heartache, as well as freedom from patriarchal narrative about women in love.

  7. LAH says:

    The poem is a confession that she might have said or done something that would have pulled her headstrong loved one away from a path of potential destruction. She is dealing with the guilt and reccognition that {her} paths not taken might have resulted in the person making a different choice resulting in a possible extension of life. But, yet, she knowingly chose to live honestly and chose to claim the genuine authinicity of relationship between the partnership. She is greiving for the loss of what might have been but acknowledging the “what might have been” would only have been for a season. And is that worth the sacrifice of integrity of a relationship? In the concclusion, although the regret, loss, and pain is crippling, humans survive. The person who was lost made the choice that is consistent with his sense of self and so the relationship remained intact and she says, “shall have only good to say of you.”

  8. Mirandi says:

    In lit last year, we had to evaluate poetry. I chose this poem. The meaning I have gathered from this poem is that if you love someone you’ll let them go. It’s about someone who had to give up someone at the expense of their happiness for the happiness of the other person.

  9. Elaine Berrian says:

    The name of this poem is NOT Well I have lost you. The title is Fatal Interview, with a roman numeral after it.

  10. ali says:

    i believe this poem is about a woman who tried valiently to reclaim the heart of a man but failed. She is saying that she tried without pride or reservation but has failed to gain that love. She has no regrets about either the man or her failed atttempts. After all is done she cannot undo the damage (no matter what she tries) and takes responsibility.

  11. Shilo Molepske says:

    This is a good poem, but I do not really understand what it is meant to say. I have been trying to figure this out for a couple of days because I was assigned it in a class, and we are supposed to interrpret it, but I don’t think that I am getting the right interpretation about it. So if anyone could, please help me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.