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How anyone lived in a pretty town?

This is one of my all time favorite poems.

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

An Explanation
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.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 27th, 2007 08:51 pm (UTC)
while in grad school...
one of the classes was American Poets 5000 something...

sure enjoyed that class and e.e. cummings was one of the "feature" poets...

Aug. 27th, 2007 09:40 pm (UTC)
love his work; one of my favorites is "XXV."

Aug. 27th, 2007 09:48 pm (UTC)
This one?
my mind is... (XXV)
e.e. cummings

my mind is
a big hunk of irrevocable nothing which touch and taste and smell
and hearing and sight keep hitting and chipping with sharp fatal
in an agony of sensual chisels i perform squirms of chrome and ex
-ecute strides of cobalt
nevertheless i
feel that i cleverly am being altered that i slightly am becoming
something a little different, in fact
Hereupon helpless i utter lilac shrieks and scarlet bellowings.
Aug. 28th, 2007 12:09 am (UTC)
Re: This one?
Yeah, THAT one :)
Aug. 27th, 2007 11:34 pm (UTC)
My Favorite
i like my body when it is with your

i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite a new thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like,, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh . . . . And eyes big Love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill

of under me you quite so new

Aug. 28th, 2007 02:09 am (UTC)
Re: My Favorite
That is soooo beautiful, and raw. I love it.
Thank you for sharing.
Aug. 28th, 2007 02:45 am (UTC)
whose town this was
i think you know
his home is on the river though
Aug. 28th, 2007 03:19 am (UTC)
Yes, the river runs past it
the naked burners dancing
splish, splash
will it ever be so
Aug. 28th, 2007 03:38 am (UTC)
that is yet unspun
upon the distaff
but i believe
that we
will dance there again
Aug. 28th, 2007 11:52 am (UTC)
a parent less child
lifts our burdens
another home on a river
go I to love

disrobe and dance!
splash, splash
the child's future spins
Aug. 28th, 2007 02:59 pm (UTC)
That's one of my favorites. I have a few others.
Aug. 31st, 2007 12:00 am (UTC)
Share one :)
Oct. 2nd, 2007 03:23 am (UTC)
Hey you! It is Kimberly (Lexa from #texas). I haven't seen you around in ages! I had no idea you had a LJ account. What have you been up to?
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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