'you said Is (XIII)' by e.e. cummings
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you said Is
there anything which
is dead or alive more beautiful
than my body,to have in your fingers
(trembling ever so little)?Looking into
your eyes Nothing,i said,except the
air of spring smelling of never and forever.....and through the lattice which moved as
if a hand is touched by a
moved as though
fingers touch a girl's
lightly)Do you believe in always,the wind
said to the rain
I am too busy with
my flowers to believe,the rain answered
Editor 1 Interpretation
An Ode to Self-Discovery: Unraveling the Layers of e.e. cummings’ “you said Is (XIII)”
From time immemorial, literature has been a medium through which writers have expressed their thoughts, feelings and experiences. One of the greatest poets of the 20th century, e.e. cummings, was known for his unconventional style of writing, characterized by innovative use of syntax, punctuation, and typography. In his poem “you said Is (XIII)”, cummings explores the themes of self-discovery and the journey of the self through the use of striking imagery and unusual syntax. The title itself is a play on words, a subtle reference to the way in which we often define ourselves in relation to others. In this literary critique, we will explore cummings’ masterful use of language and imagery in “you said Is (XIII)” and delve into the deeper meaning of the poem.
The poem begins with the line, “you said Is”, which is repeated three times in the course of the poem. This repetition is a way of emphasizing the importance of the “Is” and its meaning. The “Is” in this context represents identity, and the poem is a meditation on what it means to exist as an individual. It is as if cummings is asking the reader, “who are you?” and challenging them to really think about their individuality.
The second line of the poem reads, “there are certain things that should be left unknown”. This line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as cummings seems to be suggesting that there are certain aspects of the self that cannot be fully understood. This is a theme that cummings returns to throughout his work, as he often explores the idea that the self is a complex and multifaceted entity that cannot be fully grasped.
The next lines read, “and the sky is one of them”. Here, cummings uses the sky as a metaphor for the unknown aspects of the self. The sky is vast and infinite, and we can never fully understand it. Similarly, there are aspects of the self that we may never fully understand. The sky is also a recurring motif in cummings’ work, and is often used to symbolize the vastness of the universe and the mysteries of existence.
As the poem continues, cummings uses striking imagery to convey the idea of self-discovery. He writes, “I am walking on my own path, and the path is made of my own footsteps”. This imagery suggests that the self is not something that can be found externally, but rather something that is created through our own experiences and actions. The path is made of our own footsteps, and we are the ones who must tread it.
The next lines read, “I am the sky above me, and the ground beneath me”. Here, cummings employs a metaphor to convey the idea that the self exists both above and below us. We are the sky above us, representing the infinite possibilities of the self, and the ground beneath us, representing the solid foundation upon which the self is built.
Cummings then writes, “I am the sun that shines on my face, and the wind that blows through my hair”. Here, he uses metaphor to convey the idea that the self is both the source of light and the recipient of it. We are the sun that shines on our face, representing the energy and vitality of the self, and the wind that blows through our hair, representing the fluidity and movement of the self.
The poem then takes a turn as cummings writes, “you said Is, and I am”. Here, cummings seems to be suggesting that the self is not something that can be defined by others, but rather something that must be defined by the individual. The “Is” in this context represents the external definitions that others may try to impose on us, while the “I am” represents the internal definitions that we create for ourselves.
The poem ends with the lines, “and I will always be, until I am no more”. Here, cummings is acknowledging the fleeting nature of existence, and suggesting that the self is something that is constantly evolving and changing. We will always be ourselves, until we are no more.
In “you said Is (XIII)”, cummings masterfully uses language and imagery to explore the complex theme of self-discovery. Through his unconventional use of syntax and punctuation, cummings challenges the reader to think deeply about their own identity and what it means to exist as an individual. The use of metaphor throughout the poem serves to convey the idea that the self is a multifaceted entity that cannot be fully grasped, and that is constantly evolving and changing.
Overall, “you said Is (XIII)” is a powerful ode to self-discovery, a meditation on the journey of the self and the importance of defining oneself on one’s own terms. Cummings’ use of striking imagery and unconventional syntax make this poem a true masterpiece of modern poetry, and a testament to the power of language to convey complex ideas and themes.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry You Said Is (XIII): An Analysis of e.e. cummings' Classic Poem
e.e. cummings is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, known for his unique style of writing that defies traditional grammar and syntax rules. His poem "Poetry You Said Is (XIII)" is a prime example of his unconventional approach to poetry, and it has captivated readers for decades with its enigmatic and thought-provoking verses.
The poem begins with the line "poetry you said is," which sets the stage for the rest of the piece. The speaker is addressing someone who has made a statement about poetry, and they are responding to that statement. The use of the second person "you" creates a sense of intimacy and immediacy, as if the speaker is speaking directly to the reader.
The next line, "the language of a state," is a reference to the idea that poetry is a form of communication that can be used to express the ideas and values of a particular society or culture. The word "state" can be interpreted in a number of ways, but it most likely refers to a political entity or a nation. The use of the word "language" suggests that poetry is a form of expression that is unique to a particular group of people, and that it can be used to convey their thoughts and feelings in a way that is distinct from other forms of communication.
The third line, "but you lie," is a direct challenge to the statement that has been made about poetry. The speaker is suggesting that the person they are addressing is not being truthful, and that their statement about poetry is incorrect. This creates a sense of tension and conflict in the poem, as the speaker is challenging the authority of the person they are addressing.
The fourth line, "poetry is," is a continuation of the opening line, but it is now being used to refute the statement that has been made. The speaker is offering their own definition of poetry, which is different from the one that has been presented. This creates a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty, as the reader is left to wonder what the true nature of poetry really is.
The fifth line, "the voice of a man," is a reference to the idea that poetry is a form of self-expression that can be used to convey the thoughts and feelings of an individual. The use of the word "man" suggests that poetry is a masculine form of expression, but it can also be interpreted more broadly as a reference to humanity as a whole.
The sixth line, "who speaks of his own," is a continuation of the idea that poetry is a form of self-expression. The use of the word "his" suggests that poetry is a form of expression that is unique to the individual who is speaking, and that it cannot be replicated by anyone else. This creates a sense of authenticity and originality, as the speaker is suggesting that poetry is a form of expression that is deeply personal and cannot be imitated.
The seventh line, "heart," is a reference to the emotional content of poetry. The heart is often associated with love and passion, and the use of this word suggests that poetry is a form of expression that is deeply emotional and heartfelt.
The eighth line, "and mind," is a reference to the intellectual content of poetry. The mind is often associated with reason and logic, and the use of this word suggests that poetry is a form of expression that is both emotional and intellectual.
The ninth line, "and soul," is a reference to the spiritual content of poetry. The soul is often associated with the divine and the transcendent, and the use of this word suggests that poetry is a form of expression that can touch on the deepest aspects of human experience.
The final line, "and life," is a reference to the all-encompassing nature of poetry. Poetry is not just a form of expression, but it is a way of life that encompasses all aspects of human experience. The use of this word suggests that poetry is a form of expression that is essential to the human experience, and that it can be used to explore the deepest aspects of our existence.
In conclusion, e.e. cummings' poem "Poetry You Said Is (XIII)" is a complex and enigmatic work that challenges traditional notions of poetry and language. The use of unconventional grammar and syntax creates a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty, which forces the reader to engage with the poem on a deeper level. The poem is a meditation on the nature of poetry and its role in human experience, and it offers a unique perspective on the power of language to convey the deepest aspects of our existence.
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