The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

The poem “somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond” first appeared in E. E. Cummings’s W: Seventy New Poems, a collection of seventy poems. It is poem 57 in a section often labeled “Poems in Praise of Love and Lovers.” While the first thirty-five poems in the collection emphasize the author’s low estimate of humans as social animals, the final half stresses a positive view of humankind based on individual love and on the bonding created by relationships.

The poem is an interior monologue using Cummings’s lyric and mythic style. Using the Renaissance archetypes of gardens, flowers, and nature as symbols for his mistress and her laudable qualities, Cummings explores the essential rhythms and cycles of the natural world while drawing parallels to idyllic love.

The woman in the poem is thought to be Anne Barton, a witty, vivacious socialite who began an affair with Cummings in 1925. She was his second love, and she restored his liveliness of spirit after his disastrous affair with a married woman who bore Cummings’s first child. The poem begins with a travel/discovery image, as Cummings tries to explore the nature of his relationship with the woman. He is captivated by her but finds her very nearness disconcerting; it reveals what he is missing without her. Stanzas 2 and 3 picture Cummings as a flower, a reversal of the typical comparison of women to flowers; it also portrays the woman as spring and snow, natural...

(The entire section is 448 words.)