10 Most Famous Poems by E.E. Cummings

10 Most Famous Poems by E.E. Cummings

 

Active in the twentieth century, Edward Estlin Cummings was an American poet who remains one of the most famous figures in English poetry. His poems on love and nature, and his erotic poetry are perhaps his most popular works, especially among youngsters. The poetry of Cummings is radical for its unconventional punctuation and phrasing. Also, satire is pervasive in his poems. Most of Cummings’ verse is in lowercase and he capitalizes words only when it is relevant to the work. The structure and use of compound words is also of significance to the verse and not arbitrary. Know about the poetry of E.E. Cummings by studying his 10 most famous poems including i carry your heart, l(a, in Just-, Buffalo Bill’s and may i feel said he.

E. E. Cummings self-portrait

Self Portrait of E. E. Cummings

 

#10 Since Feeling is First

Published: 1926

Nature and love were Cummings’ favored themes. His poems which touch these themes are among the most popular works in the genres, especially among youngsters. In this poem, the speaker is trying to explain to his lover the nature of love, which he believes is more closely connected to feeling and passion than to wisdom and knowledge.

Poem:-

since feeling is first

who pays any attention

to the syntax of things

will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool

while Spring is in the world

 

my blood approves

and kisses are a better fate

than wisdom

lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry

—the best gesture of my brain is less than

your eyelids’ flutter which says

 

we are for each other: then

laugh, leaning back in my arms

for life’s not a paragraph

 

and death i think is no parenthesis

 

#9 next to of course god america I

Published: 1926

This is a satirical poem on patriotism. It is in the form of a broken sonnet. Instead of having an octave and a sestet like traditional sonnets, it contains of thirteen lines in quotes recited by a speaker, presumably a politician, and then a single line in which he stops and drinks water. The speaker sings praise of his country and stresses on the importance of patriotism. The last line of the poem suggests that the speaker is nervous; perhaps because he knows what he had been reciting is a ploy to misguide the listeners.

Poem:-

“next to of course god america i

love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh

say can you see by the dawn’s early my

country ’tis of centuries come and go

and are no more. what of it we should worry

in every language even deafanddumb

thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry

by jingo by gee by gosh by gum

why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-

iful than these heroic happy dead

who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter

they did not stop to think they died instead

then shall the voice of liberty be mute?”

 

He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water

 

#8 l(a

Published: 1958

The poems of Cummings are most known for their unusual form and presentation. This atypical poem contains the words ‘a leaf falls’ inserted between the word loneliness and can be read as l(a leaf falls)oneliness. The isolated letter l can be taken as numerical one and the poet writes the one within loneliness in a separate line. The falling leaf is also common symbol for loneliness. Cummings biographer Richard S. Kennedy calls the poem “the most delicately beautiful literary construct that Cummings ever created”.

Poem:-

l(a

 

le

af

fa

 

ll

 

s)

one

l

 

iness

 

#7 i sing of Olaf glad and big

Published: 1926

Considered by some as the greatest poem written by Cummings, i sing of Olaf glad and big lauds the bravery of its protagonist named Olaf who is a conscientious objector and will not go to war. He is cruelly tortured for his refusal and even sent to prison but remains firm in his stand. Cummings challenges conventional notions of courage through this poem and gives his take on what bravery actually is.

Excerpt:-

preponderatingly because

unless statistics lie he was

more brave than me:more blond than you.

 

#6 may i feel said he

Published: 1935

E.E. Cummings wrote a lot of erotic poetry especially during the time he was having an affair with the wife of one of his friends from Harvard. This poem with its humor, sexual tension and playful words is perhaps the most famous among Cummings’ erotic poems. The audacious work can be viewed as a sensuous tribute to the mating rituals between men and women.

Excerpt:-

may i feel said he

(i’ll squeal said she

just once said he)

it’s fun said she

 

#5 somewhere i have never travelled gladly beyond

Published: 1931

Cummings is renowned for his love poetry and this one is considered among his best love poems. It describes the profound feelings the narrator is able to experience due to his beloved, like a delightful journey to the unknown. The last lines of the poem were famously used in the Academy Award winning Woody Allen film, Hannah and Her Sisters.

Excerpt:-

(i do not know what it is about you that closes

and opens;only something in me understands

the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)

nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

 

#4 anyone lived in a pretty how town

Published: 1940

Considered among Cummings’ most philosophically rich and esoteric poems, this work tells the story of the character ‘anyone’ and other residents of a nameless town. It describes how the residents of this place care little; except the young ones. But once they grow they too become part of the cycle. Seasons come and go but life of people in the town keeps following the same pattern. anyone lived in a pretty how town was adapted into a short film of the same name by George Lucas.

Excerpt:-

Women and men(both dong and ding)

summer autumn winter spring

reaped their sowing and went their came

sun moon stars rain

 

#3 Buffalo Bill’s

Published: 1920

William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody was one of the most popular and colorful figures of the American Old West who performed on shows with cowboy themes. The beauty of Cummings poem on Cody is that it may be read as describing him as handsome, accomplished and full of life; but the reader can also consider it as a satirical poem on traditional heroism. Buffalo Bill’s also lays stress on the certainty that no matter who you may be, a day will come when you will be defunct.

Poem:-

Buffalo Bill’s

defunct

        who used to

        ride a watersmooth-silver

                                  stallion

and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat

                                                  Jesus

 

he was a handsome man

                      and what i want to know is

how do you like your blueeyed boy

Mister Death

 

#2 in Just-

Published: 1923

Cummings’ most renowned poem on nature, in Just-, can be simply interpreted as a child’s narrative at the arrival of spring. The nursery rhyme structure of the poem and compound words indicating child’s language are some of the factors that clearly suggest that the poem is narrated by a child. But, over the years, readers have found much more in the poem like various symbolic entities that the balloonMan may represent.

Excerpt:-

it’s

spring

and

 

         the

 

                  goat-footed

 

balloonMan          whistles

far

and

wee

 

#1 i carry your heart with me

Published: 1952

E.E. Cummings is considered one of the best love poets of all time and this poem is his most famous work in the genre. The poem can be compared with a sonnet due to its similar structure but Cummings does add modern twists to it. It begins with the speaker describing the ubiquitous influence of his love in his life and goes on to touch several themes including oneness, and love as the originator of life. Its popularity can be gauged from the fact that its opening line remains to be often tattooed by people and its lines have been used in several works, including in the song Ion Square by English indie rock band Bloc Party.

Poem:-

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

                                                      i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

 

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

1 Comment

  1. dom April 26, 2017
    Reply

    i wish it rhymed

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