The poem "what if a much of a which of a wind" and "somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond" are clearly the work of the same poet.....**** Yet despite their similarities, they are also...

The poem "what if a much of a which of a wind" and "somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond" are clearly the work of the same poet.....

**** Yet despite their similarities, they are also different. Discuss at least two ways in which the poems are similar and two ways in which they are different. At least two of your reasons should involve the poet's use of style, imagery,figure of speech, or sounds. 

1 Answer

wordprof's profile pic

wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

These two poems, the first (XX, from 1x1) a three-stanza series of octavo lines, speculates on the expansion of words beyond their limitations, positing a release of vocabulary and parts of speech that frees them from their normalcy.  One of his most famous lines –“all nothing’s only our hugest home”—demonstrates this expansion of an idea beyond its boundaries in grammar, to produce a cosmic realm of possibility.

The second poem, (LVII, from W-Viva), is a five-stanza quatrain, using much the same technique of ignoring the normal parts of speech to free the normal/standard meaning to find new sensations to the language.  Here, however, Cummings is writing a love poem rather than the philosophical venture of the first poem.  As such it is addressed to a person; it is a communication to an individual rather than simply a statement of conjecture.  His perfectly beautiful lines, such as “nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals/ the power of your intense fragility”, make language “do: something it can never do when confined to the “rules” of normative grammar.  “Intense fragility”—that is pure Cummings.  The most famous line in this poem is the last one: "nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands"--only Cummings would give rain "hands."

   In both these cases, Cummings travels beyond mere signifier/signified relationship in language coding, to exploit a hidden connotative power that words carry in all poetry.  His versification is subtle but carefully designed—his rhymes, near rhymes and internal rhymes another hidden meaning—“blind-mind”, “two-you”, “enclose-unclose-rose”, etc.—invisible to the casual reader but a “glue” to the poems’ integrity.  As the question admits, no-one but Cummings could have written these two poems.


If you use this response in your own work, it must be cited as an expert answer from eNotes. All expert answers on eNotes are indexed by Google and other search engines. Your teacher will easily be able to find this answer if you claim it as your own.