somewhere I have never traveled,gladly beyond

by E. E. Cummings

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Critical Overview

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 354

When discussing the critical reception of “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond,” one should first examine cummings’s overall reputation, since his poetry has often been described in absolute positive or negative terms, especially in the first half of his career when he wrote “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond.” Cummings’s unique structural style and unconventional use of punctuation was disturbing to many of his contemporary critics, and people tended to either love his poetry or hate it. As R. P. Blackmur notes in his influential 1931 article for the Hound & Horn, “Critics have commonly said, when they understood Mr. Cummings’ vocabulary at all, that he has enriched the language with a new idiom.” At the same time, Blackmur also indicates that the “typographical peculiarities” of Cummings’s poetry “have caught and irritated public attention.” The negativity aimed toward cummings’s poetry can also be seen, indirectly, in the relative lack of formal criticism of the poet, especially during these early decades.

In subsequent decades, as more poets began to employ unconventional forms and techniques, cummings’s reputation also improved. As Robert E. Maurer notes in his 1955 article for the Bucknell Review, “It is unfortunate that most of the critical appraisals of Cummings’ poetry were made early, shortly after his first books were published.” Maurer disputes the idea that cummings did not know poetic rules, and so chose to use gimmicks in his writing. Maurer says, “He is instead a prime example of the old adage that an artist must know all the rules before he can break them.” Likewise, in E. E. Cummings: An Introduction to the Poetry (1979), Rushworth M. Kidder notes that “It is important to recognize . . . that the spatial arrangements of [cummings’] poems are the work neither of a whimsical fancy nor a lust for novelty.”

Today, cummings is widely regarded as one of the great twentieth-century poets. In addition, while his poem, “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond,” has not been examined in great detail by many critics, the poem has become one of cummings’s most well-known poems and has become a favorite with readers.

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Essays and Criticism