How can "anyone lived in a pretty how town" by e.e. cummings be analyzed?

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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First, traditional analysis of modern poetry is often pointless; for example, here it does not inform the play to discuss rhyme scheme (although there are occasional couplets in the two initial lines of some stanzas), stanza form, or even scansion.  Cummings is using an experimental transformation of parts of speech to explore the universality of certain experiences (“a pretty how town” is a way of using experimental grammar to stress the generality, rather than the specificity, of the subject’s small-town life.  The variety and contradictions of human behavior are suggested, as well as the universally shared stages of everyone’s life  (one day anyone died i guess).  By listing ordinary events with a “fractured specificity,” Cummings actually articulates the universality of individual lives.


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