In the poem "Buffalo Bill' s" by E.E. Cummings, how and why does he utilize grammar and punctuation to reinforce his themes?

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E.E. Cummings does some interesting things in "[Buffalo Bill 's]. As with a lot of his work, Cummings combines both meaning and form to further his message. In this particular poem, he refrains from using any punctuation whatsoever, and his use of grammatically incorrect phrases and compounded words helps to give the poem a physical shape that reflects the meaning.

In the poem, Cummings establishes the celebrity of Buffalo Bill. While the man is now "defunct," Cummings brings up parts of Buffalo Bill's legend, stating that he "used to / ride a watersmooth-silver / stallion / and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat." Here Cummings introduces the marksmanship that Bill was known for, counting the pigeons in rapid succession to show that quickness, accuracy, and excitement Bill could command through his skill with a gun. This idea is accented by the actual shape of the poem.

Because of the spacing and compounding of ideas and words, which grow with each subsequent line until the middle of the poem and then decrease until the end, the poem takes on the form of a bullet. Interestingly, at the tip of the bullet is the word "Jesus," which suggests the use of violence in the name of religion and faith. The name of Jesus is also the one thing that stretches farthest across the page.

The remaining lines then decrease in length at a rate similar to that which they increased. This reinforces the ideas that Cummings ends with: despite the fame and legacy of Buffalo Bill, he is still dead and all his accomplishments have been reduced to nothing. While Buffalo Bill started as the focus, the only thing remaining at the end is "Mister Death."

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