Saturday, June 28, 2003

E. E. Cummings - who are you,little i

This poem of E. E. Cummings [note: this is how he signed his own name, not e e cummings] now graces the wall of my office [the egoism begins]. It's the first piece of poetry to really grab my attention, touch me, make me appreciate life, and make me wish that I had written it--the desire to compose poetry is not wont for me.

who are you,little i

(five or six years old)
peering from some high

window;at the gold

of november sunset

(and feeling:that if day
has to become night

this is a beautiful way)

This poem touches me on several themes the first one being the one to draw me in:

1. "...if day/has to become night/this is a beautiful way" - is a touching way to describe an unwelcome transition. Related to all clouds having silver linings, I've begun to delve into the ways to find beautiful ways for all dreaded finales.

2. "little i/(five or six years old)" - This conveys the wonder of having a youthful presence in himself, and this presence can recognize the beauty of dusk as sublime.

3. "who are you,little i" - A seeming incredulity that there is this person inside (theme 2) who can have such thoughts and feelings about the world.

4. "little i" - Although typical for Cummings, the first person singlular uncaptilized "i" is further emphasised by the 'little' in 'little i'. This lowers the importance of self in regard to the experience.

5. "i" and november - the nonstandard capitalization of i (theme 4) and november deemphasizes the self and promotes the time and details of the sublime experience (theme 1).


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I like your analysis. This happens to be my favorite E. E. Cummings poem.

  3. I agree with Rachel. This is a beautiful poem. Another of Cummings' that I love is:

    if you like my poems let them
    walk in the evening,a little behind you

    then people will say
    "Along this road i saw a princess pass
    on her way to meet her lover(it was
    toward nightfall)with tall and ignorant servants."

  4. thats great but!! in the poem the word "november" is not capitalized !!!! ??? !!!!

  5. Thanks for the note. I find some sources where November is capitalized and some sources where november is not capitalized. I wonder what the definitive source is. What did Cummings truly intend? Do you have a definitive source?

  6. I have a book and November is capitalized

  7. November would not be capitalized because E.E. Cummings used improper capitalization and punctuation in all of his poems. It was part of his unique style.

  8. In the text version that I use for university, E.E. Cummings Selected Poems ed. Richard Kennedy, November is not capitalized. I think this is significant because no other letter is capitalized in the poem either, which supports your claim that "this lowers the importance of self in regard to the experience." Cummings is also well known for writing with unusual vocabulary, punctuation, grammar and syntax; to modulate cubist form in poetry.

  9. Thanks to everyone for the comments. I edited the post to correct "november" and updated my comments likewise.

  10. i love e.e.cummings and i like your analysis.

  11. Thanks, Anonymous on July 17 - do you have a favorite poem by Cummings?


  13. I see it as pleasantly, wistfully nostalgic.

  14. Hi Ed,

    I don't know if you still check out this entry, but we just did a setting of the poem for piano and soprano voice.

    16:9 format, 480p.

    Love to know what you think.


    Paul Lawrence

  15. Paul - thank you for sharing this beautiful work. Robin's emphasis is in different places than I recite it -- both in my head and to others -- so it adds an appealing new interpretation of it to me.

    I particularly like the treatment of "of november sunset".

  16. Update: we've done a High Definition version!



  17. Hi Ed,

    This may be off topic, but I worked with another wonderful soprano on a setting of this cummings' aphoristic wonder, #9 from "73 Poems" (1963):

    now is a ship

    which captain am
    sails out of sleep

    steering for dream

    High def video version, along the lines of above:


    Paul Lawrence

  18. How fortunate, how serendipitous, at 70 to stumble on this page!

  19. Congratulations on 70 years. I hope that they have been fulfilling. Thank you for leaving the comment, and I'm glad that you enjoy the page. Sincerely, Ed

  20. What is the meaning of this poem?

    1. ..................................

  21. I like this poem no matter if they say ohh it not proper a poem is a poem

  22. I'm just listening to Tin Hat's recent CD ( the rain is a handsome animal, music composed for 17 poems by cummings ), a band i'm in love with. And googling to find the lyrics - as a French music lover, his work isn't so familiar to me - , i found your blog.
    You may like to discover their song from this very poem, and the gorgeous (for me ) work from this bunch of great musicians .
    salutations et respect

  23. Thank you very much for sharing, Jean-Luc. I have just the occasion for the album!