The Cameo By Edna St. Vincent Millay: Poem Analysis

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“The Cameo,” a poem written by Edna St. Vincent Millay, revolves around a cameo or a jewel being observed by the persona. The cameo depicts two scenes showing a couple by the beach. In the first scene, they are confessing their love for each other as the man is “in earnest speech” (7). In the second scene, it can be inferred that the couple broke up as seen in the following lines: “lost like the lost day / Are the words that passed, and the pain,-discarded, cut away” (10-11). The persona then addresses the couple, saying how time has affected their relationship and how they are metaphorically stuck in time. This close reading will focus on the concept of time as seen in the poem and how the persona sees the couple. To have a better understanding of a cameo, it is defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary as the following: a usually brief literary filmic piece that brings into delicate or sharp relief the character of a person, place, or event, or a piece of jewelry that has a carved design shown against a background of a different color. Since the second definition is more fit for the poem, its full definition is a small piece of sculpture on a stone or shell…show more content…
First, the time in between both scenes can be seen in the change of tone and description of the setting. It is clear that time has passed when the tone changes from peaceful to melancholic. There is also a slight change in the setting from “the boat drawn up on the beach” (4), to the “boat on the beach” (9). Looking at time in the persona’s perspective, the concept of time has stopped for the couple because they are only carved in the cameo, while the time of the persona continues. It is important to emphasize that the persona observes the images of the two scenes as a carved cameo because it will remain the same forever and the image of their sorrow will never
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