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Literature & Language
English (U.S.)
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Poem analysis paper Literature & Language Essay Paper (Essay Sample)


write a detailed interpretative analysis (750 words) of the text, commenting on genre, structure, style, diction, imagery, versification, theme, rhetorical figures, literary conventions, and other important aspects.
Be sure to look up the meanings and usages of all unfamiliar words in the poem. Use OED Online as your dictionary. Go to Western libraries Databases O and find the Oxford English Dictionary.
Make your commentary coherent and specific. Present a focused argument about the poem based on your reading of its form and images.
N.B.: You do not need to consult secondary sources for this essay, but if you do, you must cite all ideas and points you take from any sources you use. Provide parenthetical citations and Works Cited list if you use any secondary sources.
Format your essay according to MLA 8 style guidelines.
The poem:
I, being born a woman and distressed
By all the needs and notions of my kind,
Am urged by your propinquity to find
Your person fair, and feel a certain zest
To bear your body’s weight upon my breast:
So subtly is the fume of life designed,
To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind,
And leave me once again undone, possessed.
Think not for this, however, the poor treason
Of my stout blood against my staggering brain,
I shall remember you with love, or season
My scorn with pity,—let me make it plain:
I find this frenzy insufficient reason
For conversation when we meet again.
(Edna St. Vincent Millay 1923)


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"I, being born a woman and distressed": Analysis
In "I, being born a woman and distressed," Edna St. Vincent Millay, in a departure from poetic as well as social convention, admits a sexual desire clouding speaker's ability to connect mentally and emotionally to a lover. The poem, in sonnet form, is about a woman experiencing an all too common conflict most women undergo: a strong physical urge to a partner/lover and mild, if not at all, intellectual and emotional attraction. Thematically, "I, being born a woman and distressed" falls into romance genre, in a sense, yet is also a feminist poem, in a different sense. Specifically, "I, being born a woman and distressed" addresses man-woman relationship in a straightforward way – at least for physical intimacy. The intellectual and emotional connections are, however, left out for reader's/listener's imagination to figure out. From a Feminist perspective, "I, being born a woman and distressed" admits, in a unique departure from Feminist rejection of women's body as a space for man's control, women's necessary biological needs and perhaps inevitable attraction to a male figure. This is perhaps most evident in poem's very opening lines:
I, being born a woman and distressed
By all the needs and notions of my kind,
Am urged by your propinquity to find

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