What sounds does Cummings make use of in the poem? What does that have to do with Buffalo Bill?

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One of the sounds that E. E. Cummings uses in "Buffalo Bill's" is the quick repetition of words. This is made to sound like shots in order, each hitting their mark; Buffalo Bill was known for his fast, accurate shooting.

Cummings writes:

and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat

This line uses smashed together words to replicate the sound of shots ringing out and hitting clay pigeons. You can almost hear the short, rapid words shoot out from the page the same way the bullets would shoot out of Buffalo Bill's gun.

Clay pigeons are clay targets that are thrown into the air for people to shoot at. Cody was known for being able to shoot very quickly and accurately. According to Cody Yellowstone, William Frederick Cody used pool shooting strategy when he was developing a plan to hunt buffalo. He got them to run in a circle so he could shoot them quickly.

E. E. Cummings uses the sounds of the words pushed together to recall the sound of the bullets that Buffalo Bill used to shoot. They evoke the many shots he fired throughout his life.

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Buffalo Bill Cody was a famous Wild West figure who was part of a traveling group that showcased Old West skills such as sharpshooting. The word "defunct" is important, however, because cummings indicates that Buffalo Bill is no longer relevant in the modern era; he represents the idealized cowboys of the Wild West. He demonstrated his riding and shooting skills to impress the audience instead of for any useful purpose.

cummings uses several sound devices, but alliteration is predominant. The phrase "watersmoothsilver stallion" repeats the "s" sound as it emphasizes both the color and action of the horse; "blue-eyed boy" stresses the "b" sound. Consonance appears in "just like that" with the repetition of the "t." Assonance is found in "handsome man" in the repetition of the "a." The phrase "onetwothreefourfive," which describes the quick speed of his bullets, suggests a sound not unlike onomatopoeia; however, this kind of sound device typically imitates an actual sound.  Since this is a free-verse poem, however, there is no rhyme.

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