5 Poems by E.E. Cummings

cummingsFor the last few weeks I’ve been reading through Complete Poems by E.E. Cummings (Liveright, 1994) — well, reading through most of it, skimming some poems and skipping a few of the longer ones. He wrote a lot of them, and I just borrowed the book from the library on a whim. I’m so glad I did. Many of his poems are difficult; he frequently broke conventions about how to arrange words on a page. Still, there’s an awful lot of wonderful stuff that I was able to (somewhat) understand, so it was difficult to narrow my selections down to five poems. But here they are, and they speak for themselves with fabulous emotional depth and inventive imagery. Enjoy.

Two poems from W [ViVa] (1931)


  • in a middle of a room
  • stands a suicide
  • sniffing a Paper rose
  • smiling to a self
  • “somewhere it is Spring and sometimes
  • people are in real:imagine
  • somewhere real flowers,but
  • I can’t imagine real flowers for if I
  • could,they would somehow
  • not Be real”
  • (so he smiles
  • smiling)”but I will not
  • everywhere be real to
  • you in a moment”
  • The is blond
  • with small hands
  • “& everything is easier
  • than I had guessed everything would
  • be;even remembering the way who
  • looked at whom first,anyhow dancing”
  • (a moon swims out of a cloud
  • a clock strikes midnight
  • a finger pulls a trigger
  • a bird flies into a mirror)


  • nothing is more exactly terrible than
  • to be alone in the house, with somebody and
  • with something)
  • You are gone.   there is laughter
  • and despair impersonates a street
  • i lean from the window,behold ghosts,
  • a man
  • hugging a woman in a park.   Complete.
  • and slightly(why?or lest we understand)
  • slightly i am hearing somebody
  • coming up stairs,carefully
  • (carefully climbing carpeted flight after
  • carpeted flight.   in stillness,climbing
  • the carpeted stairs of terror)
  • and continually i am seeing something
  • inhaling gently a cigarette(in a mirror


Two poems from No Thanks (1935)

54 [note: contains some potentially offensive language]

  • Jehovah buried,Satan dead,
  • do fearers worship Much and Quick;
  • badness not being felt as bad,
  • itself thinks goodness what is meek;
  • obey says toc,submit says tic,
  • Eternity’s a Five Year Plan:
  • if Joy with Pain shall hang in hock
  • who dares to call himself a man?
  • go dreamless knaves on Shadows fed,
  • your Harry’s Tom,your Tom is Dick;
  • while Gadgets murder squawk and add,
  • the cult of Same is all the chic;
  • by instruments,both span and spic,
  • are justly measured Spic and Span:
  • to kiss the mike if Jew turn kike
  • who dares to call himself a man?
  • loudly for Truth have liars pled,
  • their heels for Freedom slaves will click;
  • where Boobs are holy,poets mad,
  • illustrious punks of Progress shriek;
  • when Souls are outlawed,Hearts are sick,
  • Hearts being sick,Minds nothing can:
  • if Hate’s a game and Love’s a fuck
  • who dares to call himself a man?
  • King Christ,this world is all aleak;
  • and lifepreservers there are none:
  • and waves which only He may walk
  • Who dares to call Himself a man.


  • love’s function is to fabricate unknownness
  • (known being wishless;but love,all of wishing)
  • though life’s lived wrongsideout,sameness chokes oneness
  • truth is confused with fact,fish boast of fishing
  • and men are caught by worms(love may not care
  • if time totters,light droops,all measures bend
  • nor marvel if a thought should weigh a star
  • –dreads dying least;and less,that death should end)
  • how lucky lovers are(whose selves abide
  • under whatever shall discovered be)
  • whose ignorant each breathing dares to hide
  • more than most fabulous wisdom fears to see
  • (who laugh and cry)who dream,create and kill
  • while the whole moves;and every part stands still:

One poem from 1 x 1 [One Times One] (1944)


  • o by the by
  • has anybody seen
  • little you-i
  • who stood on a green
  • hill and threw
  • his wish at blue
  • with a swoop and a dart
  • out flew his wish
  • (it dived like a fish
  • but it climbed like a dream)
  • throbbing like a heart
  • singing like a flame
  • blue took it my
  • far beyond far
  • and high beyond high
  • bluer took it your
  • but bluest took it our
  • away beyond where
  • what a wonderful thing
  • is the end of a string
  • (murmurs little you-i
  • as the hill becomes nil)
  • and will somebody tell
  • me why people let go

One response to “5 Poems by E.E. Cummings

  1. Pingback: 5 Poems by Walt Whitman | Infinite Crescendo·

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