Links

Monday, March 30, 2015

[2 little whos] - E. E. Cummings

2 little whos
(he and she)
under are this
wonderful tree

smiling stand
(all realms of where
and when beyond)
now and here

(far from a grown
-up i&you-
ful world of known)
who and who

(2 little ams
and over them this
aflame with dreams
incredible is)










E.E. Cummings presents an often insurmountable feeling challenge to many readers, which is why I try to feature his work fairly frequently on this blog, because despite his poetry's wacky syntax and nonsense words, I feel that it is far easier to understand than you might think.  To start with this one, let's ignore everything in the parentheses and see what we have:

2 little whos
under are this
wonderful tree

smiling stand
now and here

who and who

We get a fairly simple picture of two people, likely children (little), under a tree, smiling, "now and here" in the moment.  Two "whos", two people.  There's a warm sense of happiness and wonder about it, as if the word "wonderful" for once really does mean full of wonder.  The poem becomes more understandable, and now, we can start re-introducing the parentheses and unpacking those.  The first, (he and she), doesn't need much explanation.  It doesn't matter much just who those two whos are, but this is just a detail to fuel your imagination.  Feel free to ignore it; I did.

The next, (all realms of where and when beyond) prefaces "now and here."  From this, I take that under that tree, every moment, every place, is conceivable.  All of time is presenting itself in the moment of here and now.  It serves as contrast to the tale of the two little whos.

The next parenthetical aside is the narrator talking to us, the reader.  By breaking up the line structure, I think this aside becomes much clearer.  "Far from a grown-up i&you-ful world of known" is what we're left with.  The narrator is telling us that these 2 little whos are not savvy to the world like we are.  They don't have a grown up(ful) perspective.  The last stanza of the poem is now told entirely in parentheses, from this narrator's point of view.

"2 little ams"  Simple enough, right?  Those two little whos, but this time, as self-declaring.  "and over them this"  What's over them?  A tree, filled with wonder.  That tree's leaves, if we visualize it?  "aflame with dreams"  Know what this is?  "incredible is"

By breaking Cummings down, slowly, it becomes clear to me that his works are not so challenging after all, and I hope I've helped guide you.  I know this has been a longer post than usual, but I think you, reader, for getting through it.  I hope this poem can fill you with a sense of wonder and offer a framework by which you can try to tackle E.E. Cummings poems in the future.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this - I am reciting this at my son's wedding tomorrow, 3rd December, John

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete