E. E. Cummings Discussion Topics

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

In what ways did E. E. Cummings’s prison camp experience help to preserve him from the elitist attitude that a privileged upbringing such as his can easily foster?

Cummings can express both childlike and childish attitudes in his writing. What is the difference? Exemplify each.

What is traditional in Cummings’s sonnets and what unique?

“Anyone lived in a pretty how town” is a relatively short lyric poem that implies but compresses a love story. Explain the suggestions of the story.

Cummings is also a satiric poet. What satirical techniques does he bring to a poem like “I sing of Olaf”?

What does Cummings mean by his reference to the Cambridge ladies’ “furnished souls”? To what exactly is the poem objecting? Comfort? Complacency? Some other unstated quality in their lives?

Choose one of Cummings’s grammatically unconventional poems and explain how it challenges you to think productively about the poem.