Edna St. Vincent Millay

(22 February 1892 – 19 October 1950 / Rockland / Maine / United States)

Midnight Oil - Poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Cut if you will, with Sleep's dull knife,
Each day to half its length, my friend,—
The years that Time take off my life,
He'll take from off the other end!


Comments about Midnight Oil by Edna St. Vincent Millay

  • Gold Star - 13,402 Points Terry Craddock (5/12/2015 6:24:00 PM)

    Actually if you read in order the poems from 'A Few Figs from Thistles' Poems and Sonnets by Edna St.Vincent Millay published in 1922, it might offer a better insight into her poetry.

    After reading the easy to understand 'First Fig' the poems 'Recuerdo', 'MacDougal Street' and 'Portrait by a Neighbour' help make the more difficult to understand poem 'Midnight Oil' easier to understand. Happy reading :) (Report) Reply

    3 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Gold Star - 13,402 Points Terry Craddock (5/12/2015 5:37:00 PM)

    Cut if you will, with Sleep's dull knife,
    Each day to half its length, my friend, —

    The title 'Midnight Oil' seems to imply that she burns midnight oil and lives the fast party life at night each goes with her 1920s lifestyle. The first line states sleep is dull with 'Sleep's dull knife' therefore, Edna is saying that if you want to cut days out of her life, cut the dull time she sleeps and let her continue to live life to the full. This concept is developed further with cutting 'Each day to half its length' by a friend, which again suggests cutting her day when she sleeps, because burning midnight oil she desires to spent years partying into the night, which is further developed with

    The years that Time take off my life,
    He'll take from off the other end!

    The title 'Midnight Oil' is the key to unlocking this poem. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 45 Points Colleen Courtney (5/17/2014 11:42:00 AM)

    Hmm....not sure what to make of this poem for some reason. (Report) Reply

Read all 3 comments »



Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: friend, sleep, time, life



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003



[Hata Bildir]