Love Is Not All
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 cannot 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.
This poem, like most sonnets, has a shift in tone. In the first section, the parallel structure within this poem contributes to a calm, logical tone. This "nor" section simply states logical arguments why the narrator, or anyone for that matter, shouldn't actually need love, creating an almost "convincing" or "persuading" tone. Because this section of the poem takes up six lines in only one sentence, the lengthy, elaborate syntax with parallel structure weaved throughout it creates a slow pace that ultimately reveals the narrator's tranquil tone of voice. Also, the meter of phrases like "And rise and sink and rise and sink" indicate steady, rhythmic tranquility. However, when compared to the rest of the poem, the tranquil and persuasive tone of section one seems contrived. This is because the second section reveals desparation and desire. First the author continues making logical statements- "I might be driven to sell your love for peace, Or trade the memory of this night for food.." The author has been using a purely logical tone to set us up for the last line- the "key." In the last line, the author's short, staccato sentences create an overwhelmed, irrational tone; thus, both in syntax and in tone, the last line contradicts the rest of the poem. While the majority of the poem tries to convey the unnecessary impracticality of love through contrived self-persuasion, the last line submits to the pure desire that keeps love alive within humanity, despite its irrationality.