Things Are Not How They Appear: Song Analysis

Many different concepts are considered to be the be-all and end-all; they are discussed, yearned for, talked about, but in spite of how desired these concepts are by many, Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay is able to show how just because something is desired, it does not mean that it is without flaw, and in spite of how much they are built up by those who lack those particular concepts in their life, things like love and fame have their downsides as well.

Emily Dickinson addresses the topic of fame and how it “has a song” (line 3), but in spite of the hall of fame, the desire for fame felt by many, “it has a sting” (line 4), and “it has a wing” (line 5). What she means is that in spite of the siren’s call of fame, it has many downsides, it can cause pain, and it is fleeting.

Edna St. Vincent Millay chooses to turn her attention to the topic of love, something else that is sought after by many, but it too has its downsides, “it is not meat nor drinks, nor slumber nor a roof” (lines 1-2). She spends the first six lines of her poem telling all of the things that love does not provide, and attempts to explain to her reader that there are certain things in life that are far more important, and that though one person may choose to trade the memory of a night of love for food, she would rather have the food, for food sustains, and is necessary for the continuation of life, while love is not.

Both poets attempt to show that though fame and love maybe two concepts that are sought after by many, they too have their downsides, and there are more important things that are necessary for the sustaining of life, so while these concepts may be desired, it is good to remember that they “can not fill the thickened lung with breath, nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone” (St. Vincent Millay, lines 5-6).


Works Cited
Dickinson, Emily. “Fame Is a Bee.” Poem Hunter. Poem Hunter, 13 Jan. 2003. Web. 4 Mar. 2013. .
St. Vincent Millay, Edna. “Love Is Not All.” Poem Hunter. Poem Hunter, 13 Jan. 2003. Web. 4 Mar. 2013. .