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Rafael de Almeida
Professor Shaffer
November 21, 2013
Enemies of individuality: why structure is important
It is easy to be intimidated by writing poetry. It is dictated by systematic nuisances of
what-to-dos and what-not-to-dos in order for the work to be considered poetry. What is poetry
after all? Is it not the ultimate form of human expression, a way to express what it is to be
human? A person is the agglomeration of a maelstrom of feelings, memories, and thoughts.
Restricting how an individual expresses the human condition and tries to make sense of that
maelstrom, contradicts the point of poetrythat there is no point, and that poesy can be done
however an individual desires, without the need of a poetic license. Edward Estlin Cummings,
widely known as e.e. Ccummings, comments on how society thinks and how society places
restrictions on free expression through satire conveyed in the structure of his works. In
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond, Cummings expresses the ambivalence of love
and the speakers devotion to his love through syntax, figurative language, and imagery, and
renders this work as a love poem. Moreover, through the structure of the poem, Cummings
makes the implication that poems can be written in any format and that structure itself can be
used as a powerful poetic device.
In Cummings poems, the syntax is paramount to analyze because his avant-garde poesy
is heavily based on it. He uses a combination of parenthesization, incorrect spelling, ostensibly
incorrect punctualization, and paradigmatic figures. The parenthesis used serves as a break for
Comment [DJ1]: achieved
Comment [DJ2]: I crossed it out but I dont
knowIm a tad, super uneducated, so do whateva
you want
Comment [3]: Maybe use awe?
Comment [DJ4]: Actually most beloved, there
should be an s at the end because his actual name
ends with oneit needs one after the apostrophe
Comment [DJ5]: Very lovely word, but Im not
sure it fits with the words that follow. Maybe use
analysis instead of analyze??
Comment [DJ6]: Maybe Serve instead?
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the reader where Cummings pauses to define a word or action. In this the poem, this technique is
shown when Cummings defines how Spring opens the first rose, (touching
skilfully,mysteriously) (line 8) which is how the speakers love opens him, you open always
petal by petal myself as Spring opens (line 7). This break is seen again in the last stanza when
Cummings makes the most powerful break in the poem and creates an equally powerful
sentiment. The speaker pauses to reminisce all that he has mentioned about how he feels, and
confesses that he does not know why he feels the way he does: (i do not know what it is about
you that closes / and opens;only something in me understands / the voice of yours eyes is deeper
than all roses) (lines 17, 18, 19). This confession expresses the feeling of irrevocable and
undeniable love that he feels for soemeone,the other person and that love itself is mysterious in
its workings.
A salient part of understanding the syntax comes with the analysis of the spelling and the
ostensibly incorrect and senseless punctuation that Cummings employs. The word skilfully
(line 8) which is incorrectly spelled, and Cummings deficient use of space after or before
punctuations are important because they convey an idea that transcends conventional poesy. The
element of no spacing can be found in the title,such as the title, travelled,beyond, and
throughout the poem, skilfully,mysteriously (line 8), beautifully ,suddenly (line 10),
fragility:whose (line 14). Among other seemingly incorrect parts of the poem is the usage of an
Comment [DJ7]: Why is all of this in
parenthesis?? O.o
Comment [8]: It is one of those poems that
cannot be understood by the mind, you just know
that you understand it. / Just like this, the meaning of
the poem cannot be described by word because it is
one of those poems in which the meaning is knowing
only by how you feel, not by the mind.
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among others, and the uncapitalized i, which also serves to break away from traditional writing
conventions. throughout the poem, are important because they convey an idea that transcends
conventional poesy. By writing this way, Cummings makes the statement that grammar is not
important to write a poem, but more so than that, by removing all the nuisances of writing
poetry, Cummings does not only write words down, but rather feelings. The simplicity behind
the structure of somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond depicts the simplicity of love,
but he does it this in such a way that is so complex to truly grasp the meaning of the poem, that it
simultaneously renders the intricacy of love.
Other details about the syntax that could be analyzedAnother detail to analyze about
syntax are the paradigmatic figures Cummings employs throughout the poem. The first part of
the paradigmatic figure is the semantic deviation. This is evident in the first stanza when
Cummings writes, your eyes have their silence (line 2) and in the last stanza, the voice of your
eyes (line 19). The use of the word silence to describe what eyes have violates what is
expected, as is the word voiceseems to be in violation in the description, to describe the voice
[of the] eyes. It is interesting to note that the poem opens with the silence of the eyes and
ends with the voice of the eyes, which suggests a shift in how the speaker feels. Perhaps in
the beginning, the eyes were not taking anything in, they were silent, but as the poem and this
telling of love progresses, the eyes open and they are able to comprehend what was once not
there or simply misunderstood. The eyes have become a voice to the speaker.that in the
Comment [DJ9]: All of this that I crossed out I
moved to the top
Comment [DJ10]: Hmmm well this whole next
part after the comma sort of doesnt make sense if
you dont have something to say what youre
relating voice to. I tried to change it, but it may be
too simple for ya, so make it fancy as you please
Comment [DJ11]: I dont know if I totally went
on some random tangent, but if so, change what you
had because it was sort of going in a strange circle.
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beginning, the eyes were closed, therefore they were silent, and by the end, they have opened and
in turn opened the speaker, which means it now has a voice.
The second part of the paradigmatic figure is are the grammatical deviations. This is
observed in the second stanza in which Cummings writes, you open always petal by petal
myself (line 7). In this line, Cummings breaks away from the expected subject-adverb-object-
verb or subject-verb-object-adverb, and instead writes subject-verb-adverb-object to emphasize
the indirect object, the speaker, which is why Cummings uses the emphatic form of the first-
person pronoun myself instead of me. The paradigmatic figures used by Cummings are
primarily used to break away from predetermined English rules, which isEnglish rules, which are
served, along with the aforementioned syntactic techniques, to show the reader that poems can be
written in any format.
The structure of the poem is important because it is written very unconventionally. , and
Iit is almost obvious that the structure greatly contributes to the overall meaning of the poem, . H
however, it is the figurative language and imagery that help makes this work such an eloquent
and beautiful love poem. The first stanza is interesting because of the paradoxical ideas on line 2,
with your eyes have their silence and on line 4 with, which i cannot touch because they are too
near. The somewhere mentioned in line 1 are the dreams of the person the speaker loves, and
this is suggested by lines 2 and 3. In line 3, Cummings writes your most frail gesture which is
the gesture of falling asleep, and back in line 2, your eyes have their silence depicts that the
Comment [DJ12]: Deviant is not the right
wordor I dont know if youre just puttin stuff out
thereok carry on
Comment [13]: Deviant.
Comment [14]: Now that the structure of the
poem has been analyzed, the meaning of the poem
can be more easily understood.
Comment [DJ15]: Format, arrangement, you
take your pick, but not structure because you Just
used it
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person is asleep. The paradox in line 4 arises with the suggestion that the person is asleep with
the speaker lying near them but that though he is too near, he cannot physcially touch the
dreams. and that the speaker is lying down near to that person. The things that enclose the
speaker are located in the somewhere mentioned in line 1, and even though he is too near the
person physically, the speaker cannot physically touch the dreams.
The imagery in the second and third stanzas show how devoted the speaker is to this
person he loves. In the second stanza, tThe speaker declares that even though he has closed
[himself] as fingers (line 6), which could mean that he is bitter at the world and is closed like a
fist, the person he loves has the ability to open him just as Spring opens / [] her first rose
(lines 7, 8). And then in the third stanza, the speaker declares that if the wish of the person is to
seclude or leave him, the speaker will do so. The interesting imagery in this stanza is begeot by
lines 10, 11, and 12. Cummings writes,
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly, / as when the heart of this flower imagines / the
snow carefully everywhere descending, which shows that by this person leaving the speaker, his
heart will encounter its own form of death just as the flowers do when winter comes.his heart
will break just as the heart [of] flower[s] (line 11) break when it imagines the snow []
descending (line 12) because it signifies winter and the imminent freezing and death of the
flower.
Comment [DJ16]: Should be an o I youre
going to use by after
Comment [DJ17]: Is this supposed to be here?
Comment [DJ18]: Im not sure how to do it
exactly, but I DO know that if you are using three or
more lines of quote, which you are, you need to
make it its own paragraph. Or at least take it out of
what its in now.
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In the fourth and fifth stanzas, Cummings begins the conceit that ends with the last line of
the poem. In the fourth stanza, he introduces the intense fragility (line 14) of the person the
speaker loves, and juxtaposes death and forever on line 16 to further emphasize the
aforementioned fragility. The parenthetical break in the beginning of the fifth stanza finally
hints at what is to be taken from the poem and the state of mind of the speaker, which is that of
confusion and awe, because the speaker does not know why he loves this person, only that
something in [him] understands / the voice of your eyes (line 14, 15). The conceit ends with
line 16, where Cummings writes, nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands. Creating the
comparison between rain and small hands is crucial at this point because it provides exactly
what Cummings is aiming for. An eccentric metaphor between two very dissimilar objects in
conjunction with the fragility in the fourth stanza, shocks and leaves the reader wondering why
this comparison was made, so it is important to look at previous stanzas for clarification.
In the first stanza, Cummings introduces the frail nature of this person, and then in the
following two stanzas, Cummings depicts this person as powerful, because the person has great
control over the speakers emotions, and in the last two stanzas, Cummings shifts back to the
fragility. The comparison between rain and small hands creates the image similar to the one
created in the third stanza where Cummings writes, this flower imagines / the snow carefully
everywhere descending (lines 11, 12). The rain falls just like the snow, and the rain droplets are
Comment [DJ19]: How are you drawing
meaning from this?! Its unnecessary bullshit
Comment [DJ20]: Enough of this! Im sick of
reading the voice of your eyes!!!! Im sure your
professor is too
Comment [DJ21]: What the fuck man, this is not
clarifying what Cummings was saying. I thought
your purpose in this last part was to make sense of
the poem. Not to make more knots.
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like small hands because they gently caress whatever they touch, and rain droplets are small as
it is so the caress of this person is very light, but this person has even smaller hands than the
rain, so the caress is much finer and more gentle.
What is to be inferred from the implication made in the fifth stanza, is that this is one of
those poems in which the meaning is not very clear, but somehow the reader understands it. It is
almost as if Cummings wrote this for the heart, rather than for the mindfor the irrational rather
than the rational. Upon careful analysis, it becomes evident that how Cummings arranges his
poem invokes a powerful feeling, which is very difficult, if not impossible, to recognize: it
touches the reader in ways he may have forgotten or never experienced before, a feeling of the
likes of nostalgia for childhood, for simplicity, even though the eccentric syntax which invokes
such feeling is very complex in nature.
Through the structure of the poem, not only does Cummings accomplish his goal of
commenting on societys restrictions on free expression, he successfully eternalizes a love poem
through the use of syntax, figurative language, and imagery. With these techniques, Cummings
expresses the ambivalence of love and its mysteriousness, and through the structureor lack
thereofhe shows the reader that it is okay to defy conventions of poesy because poems express
the human condition, and the human condition is far from systematic.
Comment [22]: Also interesting to note that
Cummings personifies the rain: nobody,not even
the rain,has such small hands.
Comment [DJ23]: I just crossed it all out
because Im a bitch and Im tired and frustrated and I
dont care. I didnt read it, but it probably doesnt
have much analysis like the rest of this analysis

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