What is the premise of "since feeling is first" by e.e. cummings?

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E. E. Cummings’s poem “since feeling is first” centers around a speaker who is attempting to persuade a potential lover to ignore her “wisdom” and the expected order of courting.

In much (if not most) of his poetry, Cummings plays with language, particularly capitalization and grammar. He does this effectively here. Cummings does this by comparing romance to language, particularly grammar and syntax. This is evident in the first stanza when the speaker says, “who pays any attention / to the syntax of things.”

One of the most effective comparisons between romance and language occurs in the final two lines of the poem in which the speaker attempts to tell the potential lover that life is too short (“death i think is no parenthesis”) to attempt to order it like “a paragraph” and not give in to their passion.

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This love poem poetizes the dichotomy of feeling vs. thinking.  The narrator is saying that the feeling, the impulse to kiss, is stronger and more valuable than the “decision” to kiss – the thinking of whether the time is right, the sequence of social events (“the syntax”) or the other mental calculations (“the best gesture of my brain”); the narrator is speaking his own thoughts at the moment of “making his move” (to use the popular vernacular).  The final lines are perfect examples of Cumming’s use of grammar and language metaphors to express the connection (or in this case the non-connection) between emotion and expression.  He says that life, unlike organized essays or logical argument (“paragraph”), is not a thought-out construction but is lived in the moment.  He adds that death (and birth) are not enclosing logical events (in “parentheses”), but spontaneous utterances of the moment.  This short poem is a modern version of a “carpe diem” poem, “seize the day.”  (Final note: There is much controversy whether to capitalize his name.  He, of course, did not.)

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