Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay





Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay

The poem, Spring, by Edna St. Vincent Millay expresses the persona’s skepticism towards the month of April. The persona questions the purpose of the month of April. She also affirms the fact that the beauty that comes along with the month of April is no longer fulfilling. The author brings out all these things that spring forth with the month of April, yet she still questions the purpose of life in general. The poem represents an aspect of awakening in the persona. It is an expression of the realization that all that is appealing may not always be an addition of beauty to life.

The use of the month of April and the season of spring is rather figurative and symbolic. They describe the beginning of life. The use of imagery helps to paint the picture of the chance of a new beginning in the life of the persona. April symbolizes the persona’s lover. The coming back of the month of April is metaphoric for the lovers coming back. The lover bears beauty like that of the month of April. Just as the poet questions the purpose of the month of April, the persona expresses the discontentment of her lover’s return.

The poet uses imagery and various descriptive words to bring out the mood of the poem. The uncarpeted flight of stairs represents an ascension that is rather not comforting. The relationship with the lover will give the persona some form of ascension. This may be emotionally or even socially. However, the persona expresses her unwillingness to go through this process. This journey is unpleasant and may cause her a lot of pain. That is why the flight of stairs is depicted as uncarpeted.

The poet’s choice of the word redness is rather significant. The redness represents both love and blood. Blood in this poem is synonymous to death; taking away life. The persona is no longer silenced with the partner’s love. This is brought out when the poet talks about the leaves that are opening up stickily. The word “stickily” paints a picture of the leaves not fully yielding to the process of blossoming. They open up, but they do so with reservations. In the same way, the persona sees the lover as not willing to let their love to blossom. The poet also describes the leaves as being little. This suggests that the partner shows little affection towards the persona. The persona no longer wants to settle for this kind of love. At the same time, the redness represents the death that will be brought about by yielding to the love. The use of alliteration in describing the little leaves emphasizes on the persona’s contempt. The juxtaposition of love and death emphasizes on the major influence that the lover had on the persona.

The poet’s idea of the absence of death signifies the persona’s current state. The lover has come back to find her in good condition. However, this is contrary to the death that happened in the past. The poet acknowledges that with the coming of April there is life, the deaths that occurred in the past cannot be forgotten. The deaths that occurred in the past represent what the persona lost when her lover went away. This is analogous to the death that occurs when the season of spring passes. Many plants die with the arrival of seasons such as autumn and winter. The poet uses the maggots figuratively. The image of brains being eaten by maggots is a rather disgusting one. This shows the persona’s disgust with the lover’s return.

The persona has lost hope in love and life. This is brought out when she questions the purpose of life. The poet compares life to an empty cup. The cup shows the person’s expectations to be fulfilled by the love of her partner. Normally a cup is used to hold particular content. However, the state of the cup being empty shows that the person’s expectations are not met. The love only leaves her empty. The use of the month of April to symbolize the lover shows an aspect of recurrence in his behaviour. The Month of April has been used by the poet to show that, just like the month, the lover has the habit of leaving and coming back.

The personification of the month of April in the last line of the poem helps us understand the persona’s feelings towards the lover. The last line creates the picture of a lover going back to the partner remorsefully. The aspect of flowers shows the lovers eagerness to seek forgiveness from his partner. This also implies that the lover had wronged the persona at some point. The poet brings out the persona’s decisiveness in the last line. The mood is created by contemptuous words used by the poet. The poet compares the month of April to an idiot. This shows that the persona sees no wisdom in the lover’s return. There is no sense in the lover returning to the persona. The persona referring to April as an idiot is ironical because at the beginning of the poem she describes the beauty that comes with the month of April.

The rhetoric question used at the beginning of the poet is for the purpose of emphasis. The poet emphasizes the persona’s skepticism towards the idea of believing that the lover’s return can actually bear fruit in her life. Some of the themes evident in the poem are those of love and betrayal. These themes describe the relationship between the persona and her lover. The persona feels that her love was betrayed by her partner. The love that existed is then discarded because of contemptuous feelings. The themes are built by descriptive words such as redness, death, beauty, and life. The poet uses enjambment on the third line of the stanza. He delays the entire meaning of the third line by bringing it to the fourth one. The effect is that the readers are able to see the persona’s decisiveness.

The meter in a poem refers to the measure of rhythmic pattern in a poem. The metrical variation of a poem can be achieved by looking at the patterns that the syllables in a poem follow. The meter followed by the poet makes the poem, Spring, pleasurable one. The rhythm is not regular, but there are various instances where the poet has used iambic and trochaic feet in the poem. Metrical variation is achieved on the thirteenth and fourteenth lines. Here the lines have been shortened by a foot. The meter helps the poet to emphasize the general meaning of the poem.



The poem has been used by the poet to represent the persona’s contempt towards a lover who had betrayed her. The major thematic issues displayed in the poem are those of love and betrayal. The poem uses stylistic devices such as personification, rhetoric question, symbolism and general imagery to build on these themes. The persona’s decisiveness is clearly brought out in her tone built by the author’s choice of words. This poem is an apt representation of artistic expression used to convey major themes.


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