The Pronoun Character

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Both “anyone lived in a little how town” and “I'm Nobody! Who are you?” are complex poems. Each of these poems have very different messages; the former relating to the poet as an individual and the latter being about the passing of time. They utilize wordplay and ambiguity as rhetorical techniques through which to convey their overall message. Each of these poems utilize similar structural and rhetorical techniques – creating characters out of pronouns - to convey their messages.

Theme is an important component of any poem. It could be argued that the theme of a poem is what is most essential to poetry – the idea and message that a poem conveys is what poetry is often recognized for. Both authors, Cummings and Dickinson, have very different themes within these poems. “anyone lived in a little how town” appears to be a poem about the passing of time and various stages of life. “I'm Nobody! Who are you?”, however, conveys a theme of indignation about the outside world from the speaker.

In “anyone lived in a little how town”, the passing of time is strongly conveyed throughout the poem. The repetition of lines such as “spring summer autumn winter,” and similar prose give off the undeniable imagery of passing time1. The cycling of seasons, weather and moon and sun are all understood to be ideas behind the passing of time because these are ways through which humanity measures time. Seasons divide our year, each of these seasons has a weather pattern associated with it. The moon and sun too suggest the passing of day by day. These images, cyclical in their nature, repeat throughout the poem. The repetition of these images displays the theme of time.

The other message in Cummings' poem is related to the passage of...

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...very different meanings. Cummings' uses his poem to explore time and the stages of life, while Dickinson's poem addresses her disdain toward her contemporary poets. The similarity between the two texts is due to the rhetorical ambiguity. Both poems take the abstract idea of pronouns and develop them into characters which add to the reader's understanding of each author's theme.

Works Cited

Baker, David. ""I'm Nobody": Lyric Poetry and the Problem of People." The Virginia Quarterly Review 83.1 (2007): 197-205.

Ferguson, Margaret, Mary Jo Salter, and Jon Stallworthy. The Norton Anthology of Poetry. 5th ed. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2005. 896 and 722.

Lord, John B. "Para-Grammatical Structure in a Poem of E. E. Cummings." Pacific Coast Philology 1 (1966): 66-73.

Monteiro, George. "Dickinson's 'I'm Nobody! Who Are You?'" Explicator 48.4 (1990): 261-62.
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