somewhere I have never traveled,gladly beyond Summary
by e. e. cummings

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somewhere I have never traveled,gladly beyond Summary

(Poetry for Students)

Stanza 1
“somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond” begins with the title words. The words, “somewhere” and “travelled” imply that the speaker is about to tell the reader about a journey that he has taken or will take. This journey is a happy one, as the word “gladly” indicates, although the reader does not know at this point the destination of this journey. In the end of the first line and beginning of the second line, the poet clarifies that this journey is “beyond / any experience” that he has ever had. He also, curiously, notes that “your eyes have their silence.” The “your” indicates that the speaker is talking to another person, who for some reason has silent eyes. The reader can determine that the poet is discussing metaphysical concepts, abstract ideas that cannot be experienced by one’s physical senses. In the real world, eyes do not have the capability of producing noise, so they are, by default, silent. The discussion of the person’s eyes, along with the use of the word “gladly,” gives readers their first indication that this might be a love poem. Eyes are thought by many to be a window into a person’s soul, and poets often describe their lovers’ eyes in positive terms.

In the third line, the use of the words “frail gesture” indicates that the person to whom the speaker is dedicating this poem is most likely a woman. At the time this poem was written, frailty was often used to describe womanhood. While this idea has since become a negative stereotype to many, readers in cummings’s time would have recognized this frailty as a compliment to the woman in the poem. The speaker notes that this woman’s frail gestures contain “things which enclose me,” or which he “cannot touch because they are too near.” The speaker is not saying that these things are literally enclosing him. Instead, these things— the feelings that are produced in the speaker by this woman’s enchanting glance—are so powerful that he feels enclosed by them. At the same time, although these feelings surround him, he cannot touch them, because they are so all-consuming that they have become a deeply ingrained part of him. At this point, the reader can see that when the speaker discusses the “somewhere” to which he is travelling, he is not talking about a literal, physical journey. Rather, his journey is metaphysical, and the woman’s eyes are the means by which the speaker makes this journey.

Stanza 2
The speaker underscores the power of the woman’s glance with the first two lines of the second stanza. The speaker notes that the woman can easily “unclose,” or open him, even though he has up until that point “closed myself as fingers.” Here, the speaker is talking about the power of love to change a person’s perspective. The speaker could be talking about his feelings about love. Perhaps he has been hurt in the past and so has closed himself off from the idea of love. Or, he could be closed in the sense of being pessimistic about the current state of society. When cummings wrote the poem, the United States was in the grip of the Great Depression, a financial disaster that changed the lives and moods of many. In any case, the speaker’s love for this woman has opened him up, and he is basking in these new emotions. In the third line of the stanza, the speaker elaborates on how the woman opens him up, using the analogy of a rose opening up in spring. In this poem, however, the speaker personifies the season of spring. Poets use personification when they give human-like qualities to nonhuman items. When the poet notes that “Spring opens / (touching skilfully,mysteriously) her first rose,” he is referring to spring as a person, who is physically opening up the rose.

Stanza 3
The speaker continues his discussion of the woman’s power, noting that just as she can easily open him up, “if your wish be to close me, i and / my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly.” The speaker is...

(The entire section is 1,381 words.)