Anyone lived in a pretty how town ~ by E. E. Cummings
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.
Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain
children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more
when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her
someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hoe and then)they
said their nevers and they slept their dream
stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)
one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was
all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.
Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain
Often this split-mindedness of Cummings led to what might almost be called a schizoid poetry, and no poem more so than "anyone lived in a pretty how town" which tells the story of a person named "anyone" and his lover, "noone" (that is to say, no one). He lived in a town where "women and men... / cared for" him "not at all." They "sowed" their seeds of negativism in their dull lives, but some of their children guessed that there was someone in town, the woman named "noone," who loved him, yet even the children forgot this as they grew older, turned into adults, and joined the ranks of "mostpeople." Nevertheless, "noone" loved "anyone" so much that his "any was all to her."
The two major themes of "anyone lived in a pretty how town" are to be found in the first line or, rather, in the implications of the first line. On implication is, "how can anyone live in a pretty town" where nothing much goes on, where people are completely caught up in their everyday lives where, though everyone is involved with everyone else, most people don't really know or, in fact, care what their neighbors are really like? It is rhetorical question because, in fact, most people do live in such towns--there are anyone and no one, of no particular significance except to one another sometimes, on an individual basis. Anyone does mean something to Noone and that is the basic paradox of existence. We--who, after all, are most people--both care and do not care; both love and do not love; are important to one another and are not important at all.
These twin themes comprise an antithesis, they make up a paradox. One theme appears to cancel out the other, but in fact does not: both themes continue to exist and remain true. Thus, "anyone lived in a pretty how town" encompasses within its brief lyric tale two truths, not just one, and these truths exist in tension with one another, each pulling and pushing against the other, but remaining in a state of impossible equilibrium, which is always the human condition, for humankind simultaneously always treats itself at once with indifference and compassion, with cruelty and kindness, with trust and suspicion, and with many other antitheses one might list, all of which will, paradoxically, be true. E. E. Cummings, in this poem, managed to invent a poetic vehicle that exemplifies and illustrates these opposites, telling a story about most people and individuals that is simultaneously a joyous and a sorrowful song.
If you click HERE there is even a longer explanation of this poem.