anyone lived in a pretty how town

by E. E. Cummings

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 356

E. E. Cummings writes "anyone lived in a pretty how town" in a unique manner and with words that often seem out of place. In the first line of the poem, for example, he seems to talk about a character called anyone, but doesn't indicate his name by capitalising the first letter. So the character could quite literally be anyone or be called Anyone. Although in the first verse Cummings does refer to anyone as a he.

anyone lived in a pretty how town (with up so floating many bells down) spring summer autumn winter he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

In that respect it is interesting that the only word Cummings capitalises in the poem is woman.

Women and men(both little and small) cared for anyone not at all

Again the reader has to ask if Cummings means that the people didn't like the person Anyone or just any people at all. Which ever way it is, Cummings seems to deem the women in the town more important than the men. Notice also how he refers to the women as “little” and the men by the more negative sounding “small.” This is perhaps because women are the most important gender in the cycle of life that the poem talks about.

However, Cummings doesn't talk about the cycle of life in a positive way. In this poem it is something that happens in the same way to the same people over and over again. Hence the characters “anyone” and his female companion “noone.” In addition he talks about the seasons as if each season were the same.

spring summer autumn winter he sang his didn’t he danced his did...

summer autumn winter spring reaped their sowing and went their came sun moon stars rain

There is a positive note to the poem. That is in this world, where you can be anyone and noone, anyone and noone can still find true love.

when by now and tree by leaf she laughed his joy she cried his grief bird by snow and stir by still anyone’s any was all to her

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