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in Just- Summary

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

One of Cummings’s most famous poems, “in Just-” reveals the poet’s typically experimental approach, avoiding all punctuation to emphasize the nonstop vitality of a season he describes as “mud-/ luscious” and “puddle-wonderful.” A goat-footed balloonman whistles; children play hopscotch, jump-rope, and marbles; and the world celebrates the season that can only be described as “Just-spring.”

The poem is divided into five sections, with a format that matches the sense of dance and music that are described in the lyric. Contrasts are important—the slow tune of “Just-/ spring” and “mud-/ luscious” is juxtaposed with the speed of “and eddieandbill come/ running from marbles and/ piracies and it’s/ spring.” The poem, like the season, is a mixture of contrasts, from old balloonman to young children, from the slow, quiet time of growth to the rapid, explosive moments of ecstasy. Taken together, these contrasts describe a season which has no word in the English language except for Cummings’s coined phrase: “Just-spring.”