Posts filed under ‘Edward Estlin Cummings’

anyone lived in a pretty how town

e e cummings

Listen (to Yesha read)

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 hoe and then)they
said their nevers and they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt for 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

Ah, cummings. Underneath all that trickiness, all that tripping cleverness, that playful yet intense engagement of language, hides a deeply sublime, deeply poetic voice. Lyrical as cummings is in sound, he is even more lyrical, to the point of being sentimental, in sense.

This poem is as good an example as any. Get past the glorious skipping rhythm of the poem, and you’ll find a touching pastoral, a vision of the cycle of time wheeling endlessly, so that the repetition of phrases in the poem becomes an embodiment of the repetition of the seasons themselves. This is a poem about what Lowell calls “the eternal return of earth’s fairer children” [1], about the unwavering arc of all our lives. It is a poem about anyone, but it is also a poem about everyone.


For more commentary see Minstrels.

Previous poems by cummings we’ve run on poi-tre:

somewhere I have never travelled


[1] Lowell writes:

“I’m for and with myself in my otherness,

in the eternal return of earth’s fairer children,

the lily, the rose, the sun on brick at dusk,

the loved, the lover, and their fear of life,

their unconquered flux, insensate oneness, painful ‘It was…'”

– Robert Lowell ‘Obit’


A new contributor – Yesha!

Yesha runs two very interesting and fun podcast shows – Chutney Sandwiches and Generation 1.5 on Podbazaar.

A couple of episodes I would have to recommend here – the ones where she and her dad talk about Ghazals (he recites quite a few ghazals by Ghalib and Kaifi (1, 2, 3) and explains the form).


August 1, 2006 at 5:15 pm 2 comments

my father moved through dooms of love

e e cummings


my father moved through dooms of love
through sames of am through haves of give,
singing each morning out of each night
my father moved through depths of height

this motionless forgetful where
turned at his glance to shining here;
that if(so timid air is firm)
under his eyes would stir and squirm

newly as from unburied which
floats the first who,his april touch
drove sleeping selves to swarm their fates
woke dreamers to their ghostly roots

and should some why completely weep
my father's fingers brought her sleep:
vainly no smallest voice might cry
for he could feel the mountains grow.

lifting the valleys of the sea
my father moved through griefs of joy;
praising a forehead called the moon
singing desire into begin

joy was his song and joy so pure
a heart of star by him could steer
and pure so now and now so yes
the wrists of twilight would rejoice

keen as midsummer's keen beyond
conceiving mind of sun will stand,
so strictly(over utmost him
so hugely) stood my father's dream

his flesh was flesh his blood was blood:
no hungry man but wished him food;
no cripple wouldn't creep one mile
uphill to only see him smile.

scorning the Pomp of must and shall
my father moved through dooms of feel;
his anger was as right as rain
his pity was as green as grain

septembering arms of year extend
yes humbly wealth to foe and friend
than he to foolish and to wise
offered immeasurable is

proudly and(by octobering flame
beckoned)as earth will downward climb,
so naked for immortal work
his shoulders marched against the dark

his sorrow was as true as bread:
no liar looked him in the head;
if every friend became his foe
he'd laugh and build a world with snow.

my father moved through theys of we,
singing each new leaf out of each tree
(and every child was sure that spring
danced when she heard my father sing)

then let men kill which cannot share,
let blood and flesh be mud and mire,
scheming imagine,passion willed,
freedom a drug that's bought and sold

giving to steal and cruel kind,
a heart to fear,to doubt a mind,
to differ a disease of same,
conform the pinnacle of am

though dull were all we taste as bright,
bitter all utterly things sweet,
maggoty minus and dumb death
all we inherit,all bequeath

and nothing quite so least as truth
–i say though hate were why men breathe–
because my Father lived his soul
love is the whole and more than all

June 18th is Father's Day. I can't think of a better poem to commemorate it.


June 17, 2006 at 10:15 pm 1 comment

somewhere i have never travelled

e e cummings


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 skilfully, 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

what can you say about this poem, except that it's absolutely exquisite – a fragile miracle of a poem. plus, it features in a woody allen film!

for more commentary, see minstrels.

March 9, 2006 at 5:57 pm 4 comments