somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond Analysis

e. e. cummings

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.)

Forms and Devices

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

Cummings’s “somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond” utilizes several experimental forms in order to transport the reader beyond the seen world into the unseen. The poem’s synesthetic style is the most important innovation here; Cummings linguistically merges each of the five senses with traits that belong to another sense. The poem begins with sight (eyes) but also emphasizes sound (silence). The second, third, and fourth stanzas deal with the sense of touch and revolve around variations based on the words “closed” and “open.” Yet the ability to feel is also strangely joined with the sight image of stanza 1 as the words “look,” “colour,” “petal,” and “rose” in the middle stanza imply the necessity of vision.

The synesthesia repeats in stanza 5 as Cummings joins sound and sight in the words “the voice of your eyes.” Smell is also implied in “deeper than all roses.” The images culminate in touch, smell, sound, a visual image (having small hands), and the personification of rain.

Experiments with punctuation, capitalization, ellipsis, and fragmentation are also part of the uniqueness of the poem. For example, commas, semicolons, colons, and parentheses are present, while no periods are used. As a result, the reader slides effortlessly from idea to idea, and a simultaneousness of imagery is created.

Other poetic techniques employed by Cummings in the poem include oxymoron and simile....

(The entire section is 425 words.)


(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

Ahearn, Barry, ed. Pound/Cummings: The Correspondence of Ezra Pound and E. E. Cummings. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996.

Bloom, Harold, ed. E. E. Cummings: Comprehensive Research and Study Guide. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2003.

Dumas, Bethany K. E. E. Cummings: A Remembrance of Miracles. London: Vision Press, 1974.

Kennedy, Richard S. E. E. Cummings Revisited. New York: Twayne, 1994.

Kidder, Rushworth M. E. E. Cummings: An Introduction to the Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979.

Lane, Gary. I Am: A Study of E. E. Cummings’ Poems. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1976.

Norman, Charles. The Magic Maker: E. E. Cummings. Rev. ed. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1972.

Sawyer-Lauçanno, Christopher. E. E. Cummings: A Biography. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks, 2004.

Wegner, Robert E. The Poetry and Prose of E. E. Cummings. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1965.