Winter of Life

A comparative essay analyzing poems by Nikki Giovanni and Edna St. Vincent Millay.

The paper discusses how poet Nikki Giovanni bares her soul in her reflective poem entitled “You Are There”. It shows, similarly, that Edna St. Vincent Millay also writes from her heart about her past in “What Lips My Lips have Kissed, and Where and Why” (Sonnet XLIII). The paper explores how the two women share several perspectives on the “winter” of their life, but contrast deeply regarding their past lovers. The author also explains how Giovanni and Millay both use symbolism and imagery to convey their messages, which sometimes coincide and sometimes run in opposite directions.
“From the very first line of Millay’s poem, we are well aware of what she is talking about kissing. Her immediate use of the pronoun my indicates that she is writing from her perspective, and about her perspective. (Millay, 1) Giovanni’s poem’s title contrasts in that sense her pronoun is You. Giovanni’s poem is more of an ode to one particular love, while Millay lumps her lovers together for the purpose of this poem. As Millay continues into the second line, we see another stark contrast from Giovanni’s poem Millay declares I have forgotten, indicating, in my opinion, that none of the past loves were significant enough to warrant a poem being written to them. (Millay, 2) Giovanni’s lover, this one in particular that she is writing about, and in lines 6-7 she declares “lovers ” certainly those / i can remember”. (Giovanni, 6-7)”