Anyone lived in a pretty how town
by E. E. Cummings
Biography of E. E. Cummings
Edward Estlin Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1894. He received his B.A. in 1915 and his M.A. in 1916, both from Harvard. During the First World War, Cummings worked as an ambulance driver in France, but he was interned in a prison camp by the French authorities (an experience recounted in his novel, The Enormous Room) for his outspoken anti-war convictions. After the war, he settled into a life divided between houses in rural Connecticut and Greenwich Village, with frequent visits to Paris.
In his work, Cummings experimented radically with form, punctuation, spelling and syntax, ...view middle of the document...
Women and men (both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain
Author's intend or purpose
In this poem, Cummings is telling a children's story, about children and grown-ups and about growing-up, in the deceptively simple-complex language of childhood. The poem is a criticism of blindly following social conventions, as well as society's intolerance of nonconformists. Cummings shows us how society is not willing to acknowledge differences. He asks us to question traditions, and to understand them for their true intent. He is challenging anyone, meaning any one of us, to push the boundaries of our known space so that we may achieve our dreams.
E. E. Cummings's experimentation with form and language places him among the most innovative of twentieth-century poets. His style eludes specific association with any one modern line. Poets as Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore and Robert Graves applauded Cummins works. However, he remained peripheral to contemporary poetic movements. He was one of the earliest modern poets to introduce typographical eccentricities into writing. He painstakingly measured his dazzling linguistic art, controlling sound--pacing, syllable stress, juncture and sight. The intricate spatial patterning led Marianne Moore to describe his poems as "a kind of verbal topiary-work." The strong visual character of Cummings's writing owes much to his parallel development as a painter. Indeed, his dismemberment of syntax derived from the advances in contemporary European
In this poem, Cummings cumulates different kinds and levels of rhythm in order to suggest the complexity of superimposed sensuous and mental impressions. The most striking pattern is obviously the revolution of the seasons, which is indicated by the rotating list of their names. With each of the abstract terms the poet associates a natural phenomenon characterizing the particular season on the sensuous level of human experience so that one may stand emblematically for the other: sun -summer; moon -autumn; stars - winter; rain spring.
Cummings' most important structuring devices in this poem are refrains and repeated grammatical patterns. Two of the refrains are strings of four nouns, the first series referring to the seasons ("spring summer autumn winter," line 3, then those same words in a different order in lines 11 and 34); and the second series referring to more specific natural phenomena. All of these refrains are related to the sky ("sun moon stars rain" in lines 8 and 36, and a variant order of these nouns in line 21). Another refrain, "with up so floating many bells down" (line 2) is repeated exactly in line 24. Both times the phrase is in parentheses.
Literary Elements of the Whole Work
Cummings´ "anyone lived in a pretty how town" is a poem that used linguistic subterfuge to hide its sentiment and simultaneously make a unique...