Analysis of the Style of E.E. Cummings’ Poetry

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Born on October 14, 1894, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, E.E. Cummings went on to become an innovative poet known for his lack of stylistic and structural conformity such as how Cummings never capitalizes, how he runs words together, and how he plays with sound. His father was a prominent figure who was a minster and professor, while his mother showered him with affection that may have shaped his love poems. These shaped his characteristics in his poems.

Cummings has often adopted these aspects of his life into his work as a number of his poems feature an energetic style, and often unconventional style with words and punctuation symbols carefully thrown across the page which appears to make little sense, until a deeper analysis at which point the underlying meaning of the work becomes increasingly defined. This style has remained consistent as Cummings’ “unconventional style appears well established even in his earliest work”. This can be seen in the poem as it begins with “somewhere i have never traveled” in the first stanza. This highlights a more unique modernist style that no other author can truly pull off in the same way. Additionally, the choice to not capitalize the “i” by Cummings is used in all of his poems along with this one for the purpose of emphasis. It serves to emphasize the deemphasis of the individual or of the speaker and draw attention to the actual line itself. Cummings’ work many times does not follow with the conventional rules that typically follow grammar. In addition, a number of Cummings’ poems often feature intentional misspellings along with which Cummings also invents many compound words. In “somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond”, the use of the word “unclose” highlights this stylistic element characteristic of Cummings.

Furthermore, Cumming’s style also primarily focuses on running words together. Running words together provides the effect of intensity of emotion expressed as love in many of his poems. This is demonstrated by how “touching skillfully” is mashed together to highlight the extremality of the speaker’s thoughts. These are woefully modernist aspects that ultimately help contribute to the meaning of the poem. This is exemplified by the preference for ambiguity of idea expressed within the poem. Cumming states that he “cannot touch because they are too near”. It primarily serves to help Cummings express his ideas and message in a distinctive manner which often resonates with the audience more.

One of the primary aspects that separates Cumming’s poetry is how he plays with sound. He changes his beat count from different pentameters, many critics ridiculed this and presented him as “childish and sentimental and undermining the progress of poetry”. This is best shown by “your slightest look easily will unclose me though i have closed myself as fingers, you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens”. Cummings’ interesting stylistic choices are consumed by outside influences such as how ‘James Joyce and T.S.Eliot and Ezra Pound, who encouraged him to break away from genteel mainstream verse and go for something a little more idiosyncratic”. These choices allow Cumming to explain an unknown ambiguous but unshakeable love. This is common with E.E. Cummings as he often writes love poems succumbed to ambiguous love.

In his writing, Cummings also often examines the social constraints he believes loves supersedes as he highlights the unhappiness plaguing the English public. He often demonstrated this through his use of nature metaphors which are almost always of positive meaning in his works and used in a nearly religious context. This is evident by as “the heart of this flower imagines the snow carefully everywhere descending” which is paired with childlike curiosity that all stays a feeling of breathless admiration for the woman addressed in the poem. In using nature metaphors Cummings attributes a certain level of deification to the woman, himself being unable to even name some the things she means. The 4th stanza in particular takes the comparison and develops a nature level into an abstract religious feeling

References

  1. “E. E. Cummings.” Literary Kicks, 2 Jan. 2013, https://litkicks.com/EECummings/.
  2. Elly, Meagan. “Decapitalization.” An Introduction to E.E. Cummings / Decapitalization, PB Works, 2008, http://eecpoem.pbworks.com/w/page/9068325/Decapitalization.
  3. Reef, Catherine. E.E. Cummings. Clarion Books, 2006.
  4. “The Unique Writing Styles of E.E. Cummings.” Bartleby, https://www.bartleby.com/essay/The-Unique-Writing-Styles-of-E-E-FK843J84CDBRA.
  5. Spacey, Andrew. “Analysis of Poem ‘Somewhere i Have Never Travelled,Gladly beyond’ by E.E.Cummings.” Owlcation, Owlcation, 27 Jan. 2019, https://owlcation.com/humanities/Analysis-of-Poem-somewhere-i-have-never-travelled-gladly-beyond-by-EECummings.
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