Explain the poem "in Just" by e. e. cummings.

Expert Answers
carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a poem that is meant to be read aloud.  Talk about a unique writer--look no further than e. e. cummings.  Never let him fool anyone because he knows exactly what he is doing.  Cummings is all about individualism and non-conforming and no tradition.  The poet understands everything about syntax, grammar, and mechanics of writing; he chooses to ignore it most of the time and use it when he wants.

The poem "In Just-" is deliciously auditory and visual.  Even the title becomes part of the game: using the hyphenation, the poet connects the title to the first line so that the reader goes running out into the spring day with the children without pausing to think about the title.   Employing spacing and run-on words, the poem visually takes the reader along the path in the park in early spring with the excited children.  The sun is out, and everyone wants to play. 

 In Just-

spring when the world is mud-


the little lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come running

Notice how the names in the poem run together much like a child would say them when he was in a hurry.  The poem is after all about children and playing and spring.  There is also alliteration in action with the adjectives describing the balloon man as little and lame. Further fun comes from his unusual forming of words like mud-luscious (for the boys) and puddle-wonderful (for the girls).

The balloon man becomes the controlling factor in the poem. The word "queer" is used to describe him which in this context means weird.  He walks funny, and he whistles when he wants the children's attention. Remember also the mythological demi-god Pan. He was part goat and walked upright on his hooves.  He also played a flute...which could compare to the whistle of the balloon man. His domain was primarily spring and nature.

On the other hand, mythologically Pan also held domain over sexual desire.  If the reader wants to ruin a nice poem about children and spring, plug in the idea that the balloon man is a pervert who tries to draw in the children with his pretty balloons.  Hopefully, this was not intended. 

Using a Scottish reference, he reduces the whistle sounds to far and small to accommodate the children.  Playing hopscotch, dancing, running through the mud--what a fun sight on a spring day in the park! 

Read the study guide:
in Just-

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question