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E.E. Cummings and His Poem “anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town”

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Krystyna Popovych

English 1102

November 6, 2014

Literary Analysis

Mr. Carrick

E.E. Cummings and his poem “anyone lived in a pretty how town”  

“To be nobody but yourself in a world doing its best to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human can ever fight and never stop fighting.” These words belong to the famous American poet, writer, artist, playwright, and winner of many national and international awards in the field of literature. His name is Edward Estlin Cummings. He was one of the brightest representatives of the American avant-garde. In his poetry Cummings conducted radical experiments with form, punctuation, syntax and spelling. In some of his poems capitalizations are not used; lines, phrases and even individual words are often interrupted in the most unexpected places; punctuation is missing, or placed in a strange way. In addition to it Cummings often disrupts proper English order of words in a sentence. He is author of almost nine hundred poems, two novels, several plays and essays. Furthermore, he is the author of a large number of drawings, sketches and paintings.

The one of the most famous poems written by E.E. Cummings is the poem “anyone lived in a pretty how town”. This is a narrative about people’s everyday life, about “anyone’s” and “noone’s” life. Here is the first stanza of the poem: anyone lived in a pretty how town (with up so floating many bells down) spring summer autumn winter he sang his didn’t he danced his did. First line is about [A]nyone and [N]oone. They are the main characters in the poem. Technically the words “anyone” and “noone” are pronouns, but Cummings is using them as a noun. Moreover, it is a male and female name in the poem. Because there are no capitals and no punctuation, the reader can use the imagination and rearrange the words in the story. For example, the word “how” can be moved to the beginning of the first line; “how anyone lived in a pretty town” or “anyone lived in a how pretty town”. But I believe that the author used this order of words for the purpose. He did not give the name for the town, because he wanted us to create our own picture when we are reading the story. In the second line author mentions the bells. They represent life. Everyone’s life has its good times and bad times. Back in the day, when the church bells were ringing people knew that somebody is baptized, getting  married or somebody died and there is a funeral. Also, life changing is shown to us through the third line of the first stanza, third line of the second stanza and the second line of the ninth stanza. All these lines are the same “spring summer autumn winter”; the only thing author changed is their sequence. “Spring” represents new life, when trees and flowers starting to blossom, the earth is awaking from the cold “winter”, when everything was dead and under the snow. “Summer” usually represents fun, intensity, potential. And “autumn” is maturity. Besides this there is another line in the poem repeated twice “sun moon stars rain”, but this one has the same sequence of both lines.

[A]nyone is depicted as a happy person in the poem (“he sang his didn’t he danced his did”)(4), he was singing and dancing no matter what has been done. Author is mentioning women, men and children in the poem as integral part of life. Cummings is showing that women and men were not happy in that town, because “they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same”(7) On the next stanza author is explaining that we are all happy, as a child, but when we are growing up we are forgetting to enjoy our life, to see beautiful things in it; we are all too busy with the daily routine.



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