Please discuss e. e.cummings's poem, "A Poet's Advice to Students."  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his "Advice to All Young People," E.E. Cummings underscores a reflection of the English author, Oscar Wilde, who said, "most people's thoughts are those of others; their words a quotation."  For Cummings, only feeling is original:

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

And, to Cummings, this existential dilemma of being oneself in a world which demands conformity is the most difficult of challenges for the one who would write of his feelings.  The person who would express his feelings in words must fight for his individuality; in addition, he must avoid the expression that is banal.  The poet must use words that are "nobody but yourself" because

nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else.

Cummings adds that if a person has succeeded after ten or fifteen years of working and fighting and feeling, a person has written one line of a poem, he/she is fortunate.  He concludes his advice to young people who would be poets to try something easier such as "blowing up the world."Yet, if one is actually glad to "feel, and work, and fight" until death, then one can become a poet--a most "wonderful life on earth."

In short, E. E. Cummings has described the life of the artist: a struggle to express one's own creative soul, and in this expression, the greatest of rewards.

In enotes:

E.E. Cummings gave himself in his poetry fully to the life of the now and the love that gives that life its meaning