Edna St. Vincent Millay Writing Styles in Wild Swans

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Literary Devices

Although "Wild Swans" is only eight lines, Millay introduces a number of literary devices to add depth to the poem. The swans are symbolic of freedom and certainty; that the speaker describes them as wild emphasizes their totally unfettered existence and their instinctual sense of purpose. Millay employs synecdoche (using a part to represent the whole) by referring to the heart. The heart represents the speaker's entire emotional reality, including feelings past and present. Millay uses personification when she describes the heart as "tiresome." This implies that the heart is a separate entity that exhausts the powerless speaker. Millay also introduces a metaphor of a house to describe the heart. Line six reads, "House without air, I leave you and lock your door." The speaker regards her heart as a stifling house that lacks life-giving air. The metaphor extends as the speaker states that she is leaving...

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This section contains 380 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy the Wild Swans Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Wild Swans from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.