POeT SHOTS # 6 (Series B) - Ray Greenblatt

LOVE IS NOT ALL     by Edna Millay

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.

 Sonnet is an Elizabethan poetic form; but this one uses contemporary language and sensibility. The theme of love is tested by forms of possible death--starvation, exposure to the elements, drowning, TB, contaminated blood, broken bones . . .What may be a worse trial is directed toward the soul when "a man is making friends with death . . . for lack of love alone." Yet the poet reaffirms her belief in love: "I do not think I would."