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I would like to compare "The Wheel" by W. B. Yeats to a poem by e. e. cummings and I do...

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annmic | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 25, 2012 at 8:21 PM via web

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I would like to compare "The Wheel" by W. B. Yeats to a poem by e. e. cummings and I do not know what I should choose. Any suggestions?

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted May 25, 2012 at 10:58 PM (Answer #1)

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You couldn’t have picked a more unlikely candidate to compare to this Yeats poem than e.e. cummings, for theme, and for style.  Cummings did not see seasons as inevitably leading to death, but rather as a recycling, always leading back to Spring.  He saw nothing negative in death, but loathed instead non-living.  “Longing for the tomb” is not in Cummings’ vocabulary.  Finally, Cummings is not disheartened by man’s (Yeats’ “we” narrator) negativity.

However, if you want to contrast the Yeats poem with one of Cummings, look at “Epithalamion,” a long poem that celebrates Spring, “And still the mad magnificent herald Spring/ assembles beauty from forgetfulness…”  Yeats, even in this short poem, is constantly lamenting (Ireland, Maude Gunn, everything) while Cummings is perpetually celebrating existence itself, even at twilight (“Now is the time when all occasional things close into silence”).  He simply does not agree with Yeats’ “we”.  Cummings is perfectly in tune with, and appreciative of, the seasons’ passing.  You will never find a line like “Is but our longing for the tomb” in a Cummings poem.  He was even positive in the French prison of The Enormous Room.

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