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Monday, March 3, 2014

[anyone lived in a pretty how town] - E. E. Cummings

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


Though E. E. Cummings is best known for visually arresting poetry like the poem [l(a] that I wrote about years ago on this blog, this poem is much more accessible.  However, I strongly advise the reader to read it aloud, or at least under your breath, or it may seem a bit out of sorts.  The poem relies on many clever enjambments, pairings, and sequences (particularly of seasons and weather).  It's a poem about the busy little lives we all live, with a pleasantly pastoral feel, evoking images of harvests, nature, and beauty.

The repeated sequences of seasons and weather (in different orders) add a real sense of temporal movement to the poem, and a sing-song nature.  Indeed, there are rhyming couplets throughout, making the poem quite lyrical, with a pleasant cadence and simple flow.  My absolute favorite line is "children guessed(but only a few/and down they forgot as up they grew/autumn winter spring summer)"  It captures the nature of growing up so neatly, with the passage of seasons and the sudden growth spurt of a child into an adult.  Absolutely delightful.

Lives, harvests, marriages, deaths, and we're back to the beginning, the cycle of seasons and sun, moon, stars, rain.  It's a self-contained little world where "someones married their everyones" and it seems to me like a very happy place, this poem.  For all its nonsense grammar, it's still easily understandable.  It manages to be unpretentious I think, largely due to the pastoral and common source material.  It's not preachy, but rather it just happily observes the lives that pass by like so many seasons.

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