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In E. E. Cumming's poem "A Poet's Advice to Students", discuss Cumming's advice to all...

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drakecarter | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted June 6, 2010 at 8:03 AM via web

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In E. E. Cumming's poem "A Poet's Advice to Students", discuss Cumming's advice to all young poets using examples from the text.

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted June 8, 2010 at 6:00 AM (Answer #1)

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The poet e. e. cummings advises students that the most important piece of advice he can give is to "learn how to feel." He says that any old person can learn to think or to know. He implies that "thinking" and "knowing" do not make a person unique because what we think we know is nothing more than what other people think and know. If you learn how to feel, that is real -- the rest is phony.

And being real is feeling---not just knowing or believing or thinking.

He says that it is really hard to learn how to feel, and that anyone can learn how to know or believe. Learning how to know and believe is just copying the ideas of others. Those of us that can learn to feel, however, are unique because our feelings are what sets us apart from others. Our feelings are uniquely ours, not someone else's.

Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you're a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you're nobody - but - yourself.

He says it is hard to be ourselves in a world that is always trying to make us like everyone else.

His advice to young people is:

If, at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you've loved just once with a nobody-but-yourself heart, you''ll be very lucky indeed.

How can you develop a "nobody-but-yourself" heart? By learning how to become an individual, by learning how to be yourself, through your feelings.

And so my advice to all young people who wish to become real is: do something easy, like dreaming of freedom--unless you're ready to commit yourself to feel and work and fight till you die

Above, he says that if you are only going to dream of freedom, that is no big deal. You will never BE free. The only way to BE free is to commit yourself to feel and work on those feelings, fight for those feelings, until you die. Then your life will have meant something.

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