Essay on A Wall of Ice

Submitted By lilyq1125
Words: 805
Pages: 4

A Wall of Ice With a hole in her heart, Edna St. Vincent Millay longs for the man that once cherished her. Although he seems within her grasp, a wall of ice separates their hearts. “Alms” describes Millay’s heart as a house that experiences the cold winter. Her house is covered in snow. Knowing the signs of winter when she sees it, she lights a fire to stay warm when the temperature drops. The plants starts to die and animals wander to her house seeking warmth. It’s there that Edna finds comfort and company. To achieve the meaning behind this sorrowful poem, Edna St. Vincent Millay uses metaphors, repetition, and symbolism to convey how she can’t do anything but adapt to the coldness of her relationship. Edna St. Vincent Millay starts out the poem with a metaphor describing the condition of her heart. In her opinion, her heart remains the same, the same house with people coming and leaving. Actually though, it went into the stages of winter already, with snow covering the windows. Millay states that in a way that can be understood easily, “My heart is what is was before, / A house where people come and go / But it is winter with your love, / The sashes are beset with snow.” (L1-4) In other words, letting people come and go makes her heart and the house similar; but they later turn into the coldness of winter. When two people fall in love, the one who is being loved comes and resides in the other’s heart, but when they let go, the person moves out so another can move in; similar to how houses constantly have people coming in and out. However, the house is in winter, Millay then tells; which is a metaphor for the distance, between her and her lover, that makes it so cold. For that reason, “[t]he sashes are beset with snow.” (L4) Next, using repetition, Edna St. Vincent Millay emphasizes on the frigid state of her love. To Millay, her heart feels like a house going through winter from the coldness of their love. Snow and frost fall on the window panes, and landing in every place possible. She tries to recreate what they had before, “[b]ut it is winter with your love[.]” (L3) This line, though short, exhibits deep emotions of sadness. Readers can infer that her lover’s affection is distant and cold, which causes her to feel lonely, facing the pains of her lover’s withdrawal. Signs of desperation are present in that line as well. Millay thinks of herself as a bystander, unable to fix the problem no matter how hard she tries.
Finally, by using a plant, Millay symbolizes how she habituates and copes with the sudden transformation. The coldness of the outdoors prompts her to carry the plants inside to care for them. The poet does everything possible to keep the plant living, but her help is in vain, the plant decides its own fate. Therefore, Millay writes:
I watched your love a little while