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
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem Love Is Not All


  1. Grace says:

    I love how my first impression of the poem was completely wrong once I read the last line. Awesome way of being negative and then saying the sweetest possible words. “It well may be. I do not think I would.”

  2. ashley says:

    i am doing a project on Millay for my english classs, i’m a sophomore, i have to memorize one of her poems and find the meaning behind it. does anybody have any suggestions
    right now i’m leaning towards “The Ballad of the Harp WEaver”

  3. Loni says:

    Yipee! I my heart swells to know others have found Millay. I too found her in high school! The wonderful Millay will now be with you always… I am now 45 and read her many times during the year when I wish to refocus. Luck to all in your jounrey.

  4. Deveel says:

    The desire to live life to the fullest, perhaps not wisely, but passionately, is also shown in her sonnet, “Love is not all.” This lyric is a regular verse sonnet follows the traditional format for a Shakespearean sonnet, but uses antithesis and somewhat shocking imagery to express her thoughts on love.

  5. Loyd says:

    This poem is the best by far of all the poems that I have read. It’s defines what love is for most people. Here’s my analysis of it:

    Love is something that we do not need to live physically but emotionally we die without it.

  6. janet says:

    she lacks love but yea i love it

  7. lee says:

    great poem….lots of depth and thought…! wanted to know if there is anywhere else to find some analyzations of it–im in 12th grade and we need to do a report….if you know, post it!

  8. Diane Taburada says:

    yeah, Edna Millay is great! i love this poem! it just have a twist that could really add spice to the poem…

  9. Joy says:

    Millay is brilliant. True, love does not sustain our bodies…but…there are those of us who live for it. In light of this need, physical survival is a triviality.

  10. Sarah says:

    Whoa… that’s deep and so true. Now, me, being only 15, have had only 1 good love in my life– or so I think. It lasted a week and some. Sad and pathetic, I know. But, love is a hard thing to understand sometimes. He told me he loved me after he broke up with me. You can email me if you want to discuss love with me, I guess.

  11. Terra Keck says:

    I week ago i was assigned this poet for a poetry project. i had to research her background, make a poster and write in depth about the elements and the meaning of 2 of her poems. the moment i read this poem i feel in love with her. i still haven’t presented my project but i swear i will make an A+ in her honor. what i got from this is even though love doesn’t heal broken bones and is not a roof in the rain we’d die for it when it is not with us (7th line). the speaker then goes on about how s/he may give up his/her love for a material possession. but the last line (and in the most adorable way) says that s/he is not planning on it. like jean, i pause for a moment then read the last line with a smile. i simpley adore edna and this poem. A+ PROJECT, BABE!

  12. Jean Hall says:

    Love is not life. It is the thing that makes life worthwhile. I especially love the last line. I always hear it in my mind with a long pause before it, then read with a quiet smile.

  13. Mamacat says:

    I, too, have loved this poem for more than 40 years. That I read it differently now is a testament to its excellence.

  14. passang says:

    superb!!! one of the greatest love poems ever… this sonnet shows the depth of true and sincere love. tells us how important love is and how our life is worthless without love….
    ps: love is a part of our life, not heart of our life.

  15. Mary says:

    I have loved this poem for 40 years; love is an action & a gift & a treasure — all of which one shares.

  16. Magen Oliver says:

    Love is something that happens in your life… it is not your whole life…

  17. savneet kaur says:

    Love makes the world go round…it frees us of all the weight and pain of life:that word is love… lives the moment;it’s niether lost in yesterday nor does it carves for tommorow….LOVE IS NOW!In dreams and in love there are no impossibilities…..LOVE IS A WIZARD……SUBMIT TO IT FAITHFULLY………..

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