Time does not bring relief;you all have lied Poem by Edna St Vincent Millay Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English for Students


Time does not bring relief;you all have lied” is a sonnet written by Edna St Vincent Millay. The poem was published in the year 1917 in a poetry collection named “Renascence and Other Poems“. Thriugh this poem she is accusing people who says time can heal the pain. The poet is against this opinion. This poem talks about a longing of a peaceful life without the bitter past memories of relationship.

About the Poet:

Edna St Vincent Millay is an American lyrical poet and playwright.She is a renowned feminist. Under the pseudonym Nancy Boyd she contributed much of her prose and verse. Millay was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her poem “Ballad of the Harp-Weaver“. Millay was the second woman to win the “Frost Medal” for her lifetime contribution to American Poetry.


Time does not bring relief; you all have lied” is an Italian or Petrarchan Sonnet. The Italian sonnet is named after the great Italian poet Francesco Petrarca. The sonnet has 14 lines and a slightly flexible rhyme scheme. The sonnet divides its lines between an octave (eight lines) and a sestet (six lines). Usually the first eight lines follow the “ABBAABBA” rhyme scheme, which slightly varies from that of the sestet.


The sonnet is written in the metre of iambic pentameter. The term iambic pentameter refers to a line of poetry with ten syllables, made up of alternating stressed and unstressed syllables.


The sonnet begins with the title of the poem. The speaker of the poem is poet herself. The poet is accusing the people who adviced her that time can heal pain. She couldn’t forget the memories of her lover. So, everything thats around her makes her to remember her lover. She conpares rain with weeping to indicate her own state of mind. She finds hundred places yet she is afraid of meeting her lover. But in the final couplet she declares that she has find a place which has no traces of her lover. But the more she tries to forgets the past, the more she gets into it. The poem has justified the title from her point of view.

Poem Analysis:


Lines 1-4:

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied

Who told me time would ease me of my pain!

I miss him in the weeping of the rain;

I want him at the shrinking of the tide;

The speaker of the poem begins when she blames the people who told her that time can heal pain. She is accusing them of being liars. Because she misses her lover so much. She couldn’t stop thinking about him, so she remembers her past life when it rains. She desperately wanted him to be with her. In this stanza, weeping of rain is a symbol for the speaker’s mood and state.

Lines 5-8:

The old snows melt from every mountain-side,

And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;

But last year’s bitter loving must remain

Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide!

In these lines she is grabbing the attention of readers by her description of snow. Here, she talks about the old snow that melts from the mountainside at the end of winter. She talks about last year’s leaves that have been buried in the ground this year. Every old things have buried in the ground yet her last year’s bitter memories still remains in her heart. Here, she talks about how the absence of her lover affects her thoughts.


Lines 9 -12:

There are a hundred places where I fear

To go,—so with his memory they brim!

And entering with relief some quiet place

Where never fell his foot or shone his face

In the octave, the speaker talks about a place to escape from the memories of her lover. She says there are a hundred place for her to live, yet she fears to go because of the old memories. She is afraid of meeting him again in her life. But finally she has found a quiet place with relief. Here, her lover’s foot cannot enter nor he can show his face. So, now she has found a place in her mind. 


Lines 13-14:

I say, “There is no memory of him here!”

And so stand stricken, so remembering him!

The couplet ends with the speaker’s declaration. Yes she finally found how to escape from his memories. Now, it is so stressful to live without his memories. Again, she is longing for the love. Thus, the title of the poem is justified. The more she tries to forget, the more she get into the memories. So, the poet has rightly said, time cannot heal pain.