Anyone lived in a pretty how town

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“Anyone lived in a pretty how town,” by E.E. Cummings, is a poem that alludes to the circle of life and how birth and death are a natural part of this cycle. This meaning is conveyed by a complex metaphor; broken down, this metaphor slides away to reveal the true social commentary behind it. This poem is an allegory; the speaker uses pronouns with unclear antecedents to mask the true meaning and add poetic flair to the simple belief he or she presents.

The first poetic device the speaker uses to convey his or her meaning in this poem is the unorthodox grammar and sentence structure. The poem starts with the lines “anyone lived in a pretty how town / (with up so floating many bells down)” (1 – 2). In this case, this improper grammar reinforces the point that is the story of “anyone” (1). As such, the “how town” (1) represents the fact that the name of the town does not need to be specified, as this happens to everyone in every town. The speaker therefore alludes that the events of this poem are natural and they happen to anyone anywhere. E.E. Cummings deliberately uses “anyone” (1) and “no one” (12) as pronouns with ambiguous antecedents to generalize the poem’s meaning to society and all people in it. In this way, the speaker uses these thoughts as social commentary.

The speaker also manipulates time to bring out his or her message. Lines 3, 8, 11, 21, 34, and 36 all contain some order of either “spring summer autumn winter” (3), as in lines 11 and 34, or “sun moon stars rain” (8), as in lines 11, 21, and 36. As the order of these seasons changes, it indicates the passage of time. This manipulation of time draws attention away from these lines and towards the lines with deeper meaning hidden within. However, there is another form of time: the progression of life. The speaker comments on the growth of children in terms of their maturity levels and how as they get older, children tend to forget their childish whims and fancies and move on. He or she says that they “guessed (but only a few / and down they forgot as up they grew” (9-10). He or she then goes on to say that “no one loved [anyone] more by more” (12), hinting at a relationship in development, foreshadowing a possible marriage.
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