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Childhood Is The Kingdom…

In Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem “Childhood Is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies,”

she wrote of the outcome of a death of a loved one is to child.

In Millay’s poem she writes of a person who has lost their mother. Edna explains

through the poem that to a child death is almost non-existent to them, “Nobody

that matters, that is.” When you are young, death does not seem to have an

impact unless it happens to someone that is in your immediate family. To a

child the world is halcyon, and is naive in relation to everything in the real

world. The speaker, (whom I think isn’t necessarily Millay herself) is then

speaking that cats die. But after a period of time of mourning the child moves

on to their merry way of life. Millay explains that only when a child loses his

or her parent(s) do the child grow up. No matter the age, they grow up and


I think the speaker is probably the person whose mother died when he or she was

a child, and now are speaking of their child hood. Because the speaker said,

“`I’m sorry mother,’” I think it is the mother who died. The speaker seems to be

talking directly to the reader telling them about their life.

In the fifth and sixth stanza the speaker said that, “To be grown up is to sit

at the table with people who have died, who neither listen nor speak.” Millay

writes that they are the parents of that child, and the people will not speak

because they are dead. In the sixth stanza, Millay writes that the speaker ran

down into the cellar and got some raspberries, but the people, “are not tempted”

because they are dead.

Millay’s tone in this poem is longing I think and of depression and sadness.

This poem is written in open verse. It has no particular rhyme scheme and does

not have any parameter. I also think the theme of this poem is that when

children experience loss of a parent; it can leave a scar in that child’s mind

that may not go away even when the child is an adult.

Even though that this poem may be a gloomy one, I still like it a bit because of

its depth in the way it’s written. There is lots of imagery in the poem, and it

added to my confusion because I could not understand this poem at first. I like

the second stanza because I find it very factual. When I was a child, and

(sometimes) even now, when a distant relative passes away, it doesn’t affect me.

Or when I watch the news I see that someone famous has died, it does not affect

me either. I may fell pity, guilt for seeming so nonchalant about that person’s

death but I will eventually go on. There was one part I found sad but a tad

funny. In the fifth and sixth stanzas the speaker in the poem is talking to no

one in reality. But in their mind they are talking to their parents. And the

funny thing is that the speaker is upset that they don’t respond to him or her!

I think this person needs to see a psychologist quick, was my first thought.

Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem left its reader feeling pity for the speaker.

Losing a parent is not easy to accept, more so for a child. The child in this

poem did “grow-up,” but growing up did not stop them from having psychological

affects on them. Once the parents of a child dies, the “child” in them also dies

along with its mother and father, and are forced to grow up.

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