Analyzing Symbolism in Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Wraith”
Edna St. Vincent Millay’s short poem, “Wraith,” is exploring the realization of coming closer to death. Through symbolism, the poem suggests the rain is the wraith of death creeping upon the narrator, as well as suggests that her house stands for her body. Throughout the poem, the narrator explores her uncertainty with coming to the end of life, and finally passing on in the last verse. Starting with the title, “Wraith,” the readers will find context from the poem when defining the word. As defined by Oxford Dictionary, wraith is a ghost or ghostlike image of someone, especially one seen shortly before or after their death. As shown, Millay uses the idea of a wraith in her poem, incorporating the title throughout. Her poem shows the thoughts of a person when facing the end of their life.
Initially, the readers are looking at the rain as a calm and welcoming figure, the subject welcomes the rain willingly into her home, not realizing that death is creeping upon her. The title “Wraith” brings attention to the thought of a ghostlike image being seen before death, with death being represented in this poem as “thin rain” (Millay, line 1). By repeating “thin rain” (1), it directs the reader’s attention to the rain, and suggests that it is a symbol for something bigger. This symbol is suggested in the poem by asking “Thin Rain, whom are you haunting” (1), which links rain to death, as death creeps up on a person and haunts