Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay (born on 22 February 1892) was an American lyrical poet and playwright and the third woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She was considered one of the most skillful writers of sonnets during the 1900s.
She was also known for her unconventional, bohemian lifestyle and her many love affairs.

“Time does not bring relief”
Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,—so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.


This fourteen-line sonnet contained in one block of text was first published in “Renascence, and other poems” in 1917.
It is about an emotionally hurt woman, wounded by the loss of her beloved, and seeking relief from despair. But she has discovered that time does not heal pain and feels that people have lied to her when saying it would.
Her longing for her lover is ever-present and if time passes (the snow melts from the mountainside and last year’s leaves were burned ), it doesn’t touch her inner world.

In the second half of the poem, the heartbroken speaker wants to find a place where she can get some relief. This proves to be impossible since the memories of him are everywhere. Even if she goes to places he never visited , she is “stricken” with thoughts of him because she ponders the fact that he never came there.
Her feelings seem to be attached to her own being and not to a physical location.

Non porta sollievo il tempo; mentivate tutti
quando dicevate che il tempo avrebbe lenito il mio dolore!
Lui mi manca nel piangere della pioggia;
io lo desidero al ritirarsi della marea;
le vecchie nevi si sciolgono sui fianchi dei monti,
le foglie dell’altr’anno son diventate fumo sui sentieri;
ma l’amore amaro dell’altr’anno rimane
ammassato sul mio cuore, e i vecchi pensieri mi inseguono.
Ci sono centinaia di posti in cui temo
andare, così colmi del suo ricordo.
Ma anche entrando con sollievo in un quieto luogo
che mai ne vide il passo o il volto luminoso
dico: “Non c’è memoria di lui qui!”
e così resto, confusa, a ricordarlo.
(L.Z.)

55 thoughts on “Edna St. Vincent Millay

      1. I misread your analysis and thought it switched from woman to man.” It is about an emotionally hurt woman, wounded by the loss of her beloved woman, and seeking relief from despair. But she has discovered that time does not heal pain and feels that people have lied to her when saying it would.
        Her longing for her lover is ever-present and if time passes (the snow melts from the mountainside and last year’s leaves were burned ), it doesn’t touch her inner world.” The poem addresses a man, maybe to make it more socially acceptable. So I incorrectly blended what you wrote and the gender expressed in the poem. Sorry about that.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. It is I who must apologize, because I did not realize that the word woman, which I wanted to remove, had remained
        You really pay great attention, and I thank you for pointing out the mistake🙏🙏🙏
        PS Edna Millay also had female lovers, but that was not the object of this sonnet

        Liked by 2 people

      1. 🍒🍇🍋🍦 I’m going to have breakfast it’s 11.00 a.m. got to take care of cats and birds and everybody else outside inside but I’m going to stop and have breakfast. enjoy your day my dear I realize it’s about six hours later in your country than in mine so it’s probably close to dinnertime enjoy your dinner enjoy your work enjoy your love enjoy your life. I speak about you often to the people I know that I understand . I think of you as a gift, you gave me encouragement that no one that I know , family neighbors friends anyone could give . I’m sure you’ve done that for other people here on your blog… bless your heart dear lady.💜💚💋💙💋💛🧡

        Liked by 2 people

      2. LUISA WITH ALL of MY heartfelt words I really appreciate your support and kindness ,WHEREVER WE GO WE MUST SHOW LOVING POSITIVE FEELINGS BUT THERE HAVE BEEN TIMES IT HAS BACKFIRED ON ME . ALMOST COST MY HUSBAND GENE & I OUR LIVES , SOMEDAY I WILL SHARE THE EXPERIENCE WITH YOU ALL 🍽🕷👺🧛‍♀️💣👭

        Liked by 1 person

  1. What a beautiful Sonnet you let us hear today, Luisa. Your introduction and thoughts around it are so
    true and sensitive.
    Quoting you:” Her feelings seem to be attached to her own being and not to a physical location.“

    That is so true and I feel the same when reading the Sonnet and from experiences in my own life.

    miriam

    Liked by 1 person

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