somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond

by E. E. Cummings

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

There are two main characters in the poem "somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond." The first main character is the speaker of the poem, and the second main character is the "you" that the speaker addresses.

The Speaker

The speaker is presented as completely enamored with the "you" to whom the poem is addressed. He also seems to feel as if this love confounds or confuses him somewhat. Indeed, in the final line of the first stanza, he says that he has feelings that he "cannot touch because they are too near." The implication here is that these feelings he has are powerful but intangible. He perhaps wants to touch them to better understand them, and the fact that these feelings are "too near," meaning that they are inside of him, makes it especially frustrating that he can't touch or fully comprehend them.

The speaker also repeatedly suggests that he is at the mercy of this person he is in love with. He describes himself as if he is helpless in the palm of their hand. He says that their gestures can "enclose" him and that their "slightest look" will "unclose him." He also says that "if your wish be to close me, I and my life will shut very beautifully." The overall impression is that he is helpless and at this person's mercy, and also that he is happy to be so.

The Addressee

The second main character in the poem, the addressee, is described as enchanting, beautiful, mysterious, and delicate. This person's eyes are "deeper than all roses," implying that their beauty is more profound than the collective beauty of every rose. Their hands are small, and "nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands." This description connotes delicacy, or fragility, and in turn implies that this person is precious. This fragility is also described as an "intense fragility" which has the "power" to "compel" the speaker. The addressee's fragility is a recurring motif throughout the poem and is presented, somewhat paradoxically, as having great, inexplicable power or strength. This idea is first conveyed in the first stanza, when the speaker says that "in your most frail gesture are things that enclose me."

Flower imagery also runs throughout the poem and is used to describe either the person the speaker is in love with or the impact the beloved has on him. In the second stanza, for example, he compares them to "Spring," which opens a flower "petal by petal." Here the speaker is the flower and the addressee "Spring," suggesting once more the power this person has over him.

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