SONNET 29- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Notes (including evidence, explanation and its effect)
Subject (overview). What is this poem about? What point of view is displayed in this poem?
Sonnet 29 is about a woman who has been scorned in love and is getting over a broken heart. In this poem, a first person point of view is shown where the woman accepts a recent betrayal and tries to heal her wounds. We can see that she has come to terms with the fact with her statement ‘Love is no more’. This shows how she has accepted the truth and has realized that her period of love is over.
Purpose- What message is the poet conveying?
Although, the poet it defiant and claims that she does not want to be pitied, in actuality she is angry for making herself vulnerable to someone else and not learning from her prior disappointments in love, seen when she says 'Pity me that the heart is slow to learn'
The poet’s statement ‘pity me not’ and its repeated mentions shows how she is trying to make herself believe that she is strong enough to survive without the lover and anyone feeling sorry for her. It however appears to have the opposite effect on the reader, who expresses their sympathies for her.
Emotions (both in the poem and the impact on the readers)
During the first reading, the lady appears to have a tone of resolute defiance, as she refers to her breakup with a philosophical tone and maintains the fact that she does not require pity from outsiders. This gives the audience the illusion that she is a strong willed woman, something that is refuted in the second reading as it is clear that she is still broken from her loss and is crushed that her 'love is no more.' This revelation causes readers to sympathise with her, as she has clearly suffered a terrible heartbreak.


Structure (including verse and rhyme scheme)
Sonnet 29 is composed as a Petrarchan sonnet, which were originally composed to express unrequited love and dealt with heartbreaks. This is very relevant to the theme of this poem, as the persona is also trying to cope with the loss following the end of her love. Here, there is an octave which is later followed by a sestet. The octave in the poem has a philosophical tone whereas the persona is bitterer in the sestet, where she reveals her true emotions. The Petrarchan sonnet develops a change in tone of the poem. The first octave is composed in a rational tone where the persona reasons with herself; she must move on from this loss as well. She seems resigned, but is still defiant and defensive. She is accusatory towards the persona when she says that he ‘no longer looks with love’ on her. Additionally, this tone of accusation is also substantiated by the use of the direct address 'you'. In the sestet, the persona acknowledges her devastation at the loss, and admits that she made a mistake by loving her. There is a clear paradox seen between the ideas presented in the octave and sestet of the poem.
The poem follows a fixed iambic pentameter throughout the poem, where the succession of stressed and unstressed syllables reflects her heartbeat. This also proves that the emotions that she is expressing are true and that she held her lover very close to her heart. The iambic pentameter also adds a constant beat to the poem.
Alternating lines rhyme in this poem, whereas the last two lines is a couplet, as seen in Petrarchan sonnets. This makes the poem seem more lyrical, and makes it seem like a sad song. The rhyming couplet used in the end encapsulates the ideas of the poem and summarises the octave and sestet as the two lines contrast each other in having slow and fast imagery.
Line length (end stopped, enjambment, punctuation such as caesura)
Lines 5, 6 and 7 are separated only by commas as this develops an effect that she is listing reasons why she should not be pitied. However, this also has a slightly resentful tone to it, which contradicts the fact that she does not want to be pitied by anyone.
Semicolons are used to a similar effect in Line 2 as it indicates that the sun is setting on the relationsip and that it has come to the 'close of day'. The semi colon used soon after this phrase shows that this phase of her life has come to an end and that there is no going back; the semi colon adds a note of finality.
She uses a caesura (the volta) in line 9, where she states matter of factly that her 'love is no more'. The use of the volta makes the audience believe that she is disengaged from the subject; this assumption is later proved wrong when the reader senses that she is extremely agitated in reality.
Imagery (sensory imagery, colour imagery, animal imagery, nature imagery, similes, metaphors- in general use of figurative language)
The poem opens with an image of night time, seen by the fact that the 'light of day' 'no longer walks the sky'. This adds a more gloomy effect to the poem as the night is usually associated with the absence of colour and sadness; this compliments the fact that the persona is going through a particularly harsh phase of her life at this point of time.
The poet uses nature imagery to signify the death of her love as she shows that even though nature is in harmony with itself, she has still not found a balance in her life, and now her life has been turned even more haywire. This image is especially projected in the octave as it uses gentle nature imagery to contrast her feelings. Changes in nature reflect the changes in her relationship.
The moon has a romantic connotation as it is compared to the woman's love. The 'waning of the moon' symbolises the reducing power of the woman's love, and also indicated the fact that this love will eventually come to an end, just as the moon eventually becomes a new moon. On the other hand, it offers some hope as it indicates that this is just a phase of her life.
The imagery in the octave is far more gentle, as this shows the reader that the persona is considering the situation with a calm mind and that she had developed a philosophical understanding of it. She refers to the break up as something which was as natural as the 'ebbing tide going out to the sea'.
This gentle rhythm of the poem is abruptly broken with the use of a direct address; it then develops an accusatory tone and leads the reader further into the sestet where the imagery becomes more violent.
The tide is now described in a far more harsh way; the 'great tide' and the 'shifting shores' indicate the fact that the man developed tendencies towards other women in the course of their relationship. She admits to being broken-hearted when she mentions that her ex-lover was 'strewing fresh wreckage gathered in the gales', indicating that he was opening up her healing wounds. This is complemented by the 'g' alliteration which has a cacophanic effect, which adds a harsh tone to the line.

The persona's love is compared to a 'wide blossom'. Flowers generally have a connotation to beauty and happiness; the blossoming also indicates the fact that her love was blooming and growing into something powerful. However, the 'wind assails' this love, showing how it was uprooted, and not allowed to blossom into something more powerful.

The constant repetition of 'pity me not' (motif) eventually causes the reader to sympathise with the persona; it also serves as a link between the octave and the sestet, and helps in developing the bitterness of the tone, as the 'pity me not' eventually changes into a 'pity me'.
Mood (including tone, atmosphere)
The mood in this poem shows a stark change from being resigned to more bitter; this closely reflects the thoughts of the persona as she has lost her true love. This tone and mood of the poem is brought out by developing the form of the nature imagery used, which moves from gentle to violent, hence making the atmosphere somber and serious.
Summary (the main idea and the overall impact)
The last two lines of the poem effectively summarise the ideas projected in the poem. She offers a juxtaposition between her 'heart that is slow to learn' and her 'swift mind', showing that her mind admits the mistake that she made in loving him and acknowledges the fact that she must move on, but her heart refuses to accept this bitter truth and still loves him; her heart has not caught up with her mind.