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.



#10 Since Feeling is First

Published:1926

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

Synopsis:-

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.


#9 next to of course god america I

Published:1926

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

Synopsis:-

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.


#8 l(a

Published:1958

Poem:-

l(a

le
af
fa
ll

s)
one
l

iness

Synopsis:-

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”.



#7 i sing of Olaf glad and big

Published:1926

Poem:-

i sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or

his wellbelovéd colonel(trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but--though an host of overjoyed
noncoms(first knocking on the head
him)do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments--
Olaf(being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds,without getting annoyed
"I will not kiss your fucking flag"

straightway the silver bird looked grave
(departing hurriedly to shave)

but--though all kinds of officers
(a yearning nation's blueeyed pride)
their passive prey did kick and curse
until for wear their clarion
voices and boots were much the worse,
and egged the firstclassprivates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skilfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat--
Olaf(upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
"there is some shit I will not eat"

our president,being of which
assertions duly notified
threw the yellowsonofabitch
into a dungeon,where he died

Christ(of His mercy infinite)
i pray to see;and Olaf,too

preponderatingly because
unless statistics lie he was
more brave than me:more blond than you.

Synopsis:-

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.


#6 may i feel said he

Published:1935

Poem:-

may i feel said he
(i'll squeal said she
just once said he)
it's fun said she
 
(may i touch said he
how much said she
a lot said he)
why not said she
 
(let's go said he
not too far said she
what's too far said he
where you are said she) 

may i stay said he
which way said she
like this said he
if you kiss said she

may i move said he
is it love said she)
if you're willing said he
(but you're killing said she

but it's life said he
but your wife said she
now said he)
ow said she

(tiptop said he
don't stop said she
oh no said he)
go slow said she
 
(cccome?said he
ummm said she)
you're divine!said he
(you are Mine said she)

Synopsis:-

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.



#5 somewhere i have never travelled gladly beyond

Published:1931

Poem:-

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(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

Synopsis:-

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.


#4 anyone lived in a pretty how town

Published:1940

Poem:-

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

Synopsis:-

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.



#3 Buffalo Bill’s

Published:1920

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

Synopsis:-

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.


#2 in Just-

Published:1923

Poem:-

in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles          far          and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far          and             wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it's
spring
and

         the

                  goat-footed

balloonMan          whistles
far
and
wee

Synopsis:-

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.


#1 i carry your heart with me

Published:1952

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)

Synopsis:-

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 is still often tattooed by people and its lines have been used by several artists, including in the song Ion Square by English indie rock band Bloc Party.



22 thoughts on “10 Most Famous Poems by E.E. Cummings”

  1. I awoke thinking of my childhood days when upon reflection of things learned and proper punctuation…it reminds me of a kinder less complex time …when breathing freely and without trepidation…I dreamed more joyously than I concerned myself with expression…and e e Cummings came to mind…

    Reply
  2. He is a great influence. I think the visual aspect of his poems are just as interesting as the actual poems. I wrote a poem called “Oceans Crossings” that I didnt realize was influenced by ee cummings. I hadnt read his works but must have read anothers whom was a student.

    Reply
    • Ocean Crossing

                                      In the first blue hours we dance with words.
                                        Instrumental flower with the silver stems
                                and sounds of bouquets scent.
                                  The stars sleep through the sleepless nights
      The vastness through the deep         
      while others lie in beds asleep
      or waking up from dreams.

                In time that twists back on itself, a Dali that is framed Green Irish girl through minutes wit and accents through her stare.

                     No Isis/Venus paired..but beauties just the same
          And bumbling boy taps tangled hangers lingered in mid air     
                 Then poems are read over a night day sea
                                               and water turns to streams

                                     And as the winter moon dusk and summer sun
                       spills through each thin line of white boned blinds
                                  the embrace of kissed air as flowers breath
                           can still be heard
                      at oceans crossing

      Reply
  3. Um no swearing please

    Its not nice to swear
    So please don’t do it
    I really can’t bear
    When you say Sh*t

    Its bad for you and me
    And you know that
    So i hope you stop
    And make it a fact

    If you are going to swear Shaun
    Say it somewhere else
    Because some people are born
    Being religous

    Thankyou for reading
    i hope you learn
    Becuase if this helped you
    Im 12

    Emily xx

    Reply

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