somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond

by E. E. Cummings

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

E. E. Cummings's poem “somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond” is a delicate piece of poetry about intimacy and the unknown. It seems, though, that this poem, like many others of Cummings’s works, is intentionally vague and ambiguous, adding an air of mystery to the themes of the poem.

The poem begins with a statement that being with this person, this entity, is something that he is unfamiliar with, and this is somewhere he has never traveled, but it is not at all unwelcome. The feeling of the other’s “frail gestures” is new and exciting. The feeling he expresses seems almost intoxicating or rapturous while also being subdued and hallowed.

He continues on in the poem to express the power this other individual has over him, that their “slightest look easily will unclose me.” This relationship is deep and intimate, and the speaker is at the mercy of the other, but they delight in that. It evokes the idea of a new relationship, when one is consumed with passion and excitement, and everything one's lover does awes them. He says that the other can easily unclose him but just as easily close him up if that be their wish, stating that his life will “close up, beautifully, suddenly.”

There is nothing, Cummings states, that can compare with this person, with their “powerful fragility.” He expresses awe and wonder at their strength but also the tenderness and frailty they hold. Cummings seems to be enraptured by this mysterious love. All the while, throughout the poem, he refuses to clarify any details about this being. The final stanza is almost written as an aside, offset in parentheses mostly, as he acknowledges the mystery. He states that he does not know what it is about this other person that makes them the way they are, but he is consumed. The final line betrays the only detail in the whole poem, that “even the rain doesn’t have such small hands.”

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