Edward Estlin Cummings

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Edward Estlin Cummings was an American poet – the second most widely read poet in the United States, after Robert Frost – born in 1894. He was immensely popular, especially among younger readers for his work; he experimented radically with form, punctuation, spelling and syntax. The majority of his poems turn to the subjects of love, war, and sex, with such simplistic language, abandoning traditional techniques to create new means of poetic expression.

“Somewhere I have never travelled”, is a very highly acclaimed poem. The narrator speaks of his lover, and the power, which attaches him to her. The title, “Somewhere I have never travelled”, is significant to the romantic theme of the poem. It is quite a complicated concept, and at first glance, it is not quite clear, however by looking deeper into the poem, the title has a deeper romantic meaning than might first be perceived. The speaker is describing how his lover is able to touch in every aspect of him.

The frequent references to roses and fragility seem slightly sexist, as it is easy to interpret this as the speaker seeing women as beautiful but weak creatures. However, the fragility, which he speaks of, is not a lack of strength – physical, mental or emotional – in his beloved. Instead, he is appreciating the complexity of her being, which he explores when he interacts with and loves her on different levels – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. She is so fragile because any action on his part produces an effect on her, "death and forever with each breathing", she is so sensitive to his existence. Any change, which he brings about in her, he considers to be breaking her, in a metaphorical sense.

“Fragility” however, can also be powerful, “the power of your intense fragility”. The idea of frailness/fragility in this poem is slightly paradoxical; because the speaker finds his beloved so fragile; this has powerful effect on his emotions and spirit. It is intense because of the highly charged emotions involved. “Whose texture compels me with the colour of its countries”, this quotation refers to her, being so infinitely complex, there are so many areas the speaker has yet to discover in loving her. It renders “death and forever with each breathing", as previously explained, the smallest action on the speaker’s part, in this case breathing, alters his beloved. This, in a sense, cause...

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...nds” possibly belong to his beloved, and it is the speaker that is the rose. Roses that are closed will open up when it rains, only rain can open up a fragile rose without harming it. He is telling her she is so special to him that only she has been able to "open him up" or even, make him feel able to open up to anyone. The rain has the ability to get into every crevice and hole in the ground and manages to touch everything. In a way, it seems inevitable that the rain should soak anything left outside in its reach. The person he is speaking of has "hands" that are so small they manage to touch every aspect of his life in such an intricate way, that not even the rain could be so precise and cover as much of his heart, “nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands”.

This poem is very unique, there are so many ways to interpret it, and still every interpretation emphasises the speakers emotions. There is no rational justification for the cryptic words and phrases used, the reader must look very deeply into the poem to find the hidden connotations, however, this poem could still be considered one of the closest linguistic approximations to what love is.

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