since feeling is first

by E. E. Cummings

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"And Death I Think Is No Parenthesis"

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Context: This poem is an appeal to the poet's beloved for co-operation in their need for sincere, thorough human experiences. "Since feeling is first," he who pays attention to the formalities of his conduct, subduing his feelings, will never be able to express himself completely, "will never wholly kiss you," says the poet. Representing the nature of the feeling to which the poet refers are the symbols for youth, activity, and beauty–Spring, blood, and flowers respectively. "While Spring is in the world" the poet is willing to "wholly be a fool." For "kisses are a better fate/than wisdom," he reasons. Then the poet realizes that his artistic attempts to persuade his beloved to surrender herself to her real nature are less convincing than her own impulses, recognizable in her "eyelids' flutter which says/we are for each other." Therefore, he tells her not to cry, knowing that she is also inclined toward a full realization of her natural humanity. The poet justifies such a realization on the basis of a naturalistic philosophy; this life is not just a part of a greater life, and death is not just an insertion into a continuing life. He says:

laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis

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