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by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Analysis: Setting

Where It All Goes Down

This poem traces the adventures of a couple throughout the night. Jumping on and off of the ferry, they manage to wander through town (stopping for dinner) and ramble through the wilds (making a fire and lying on a hill to star-gaze).

In some ways, this poem is all about setting. We don't get too much detail about either the speaker or her companion (that's "you," in case you were wondering). Want to know all the dirty little secrets of our speaker's life? Too bad. Find yourself another poem.

Instead, we move quickly from action to action. As our speaker recounts what happened over the course of the night, we get little snapshots of what her world must look like as she moves through it. It's sort of like Memento. Except it moves in chronological order. Oh, and there aren't any guns. Sorry.

Instead, it's a pretty magical world – the kind of magic that turns everyday things into wondrous objects and boring actions (like taking the ferry) into a night to remember. When the sun rises like a "bucketful of gold," chances are that things are pretty good. We're betting that this has something to do with the speaker's companion, but we'll say more about that in "Themes."

So, even though we couldn't tell you exactly where this ferry is, we can tell you how it feels to be on it. And really, isn't that what you want to know?

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