Use Of Grammar And Punctuation Of `` Anyone Lived On A Pretty How Town `` By E. Cummings
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E. E. Cummings ' "anyone lived in a pretty how town" is often interpreted as a love poem (Macksoud 72), but it can be analyzed more deeply to reflect societal themes. Cummings ' use of grammar and punctuation is unconventional and at the same time organized in a way that draws the reader to certain conclusions about the way the citizens of the "how town" live. None of the protagonists are given a name, and yet knowing their titles—"anyone," "women and men," "children," "someone," "everyone," and "noone"—and analyzing the contrast between the individual and the group is essential to understanding the message the poem conveys (Kidder 143).
During E. E. Cummings ' life, he made many arguments in favor of individualism and condemned conformity. During a speech at Harvard, he once stated, "So far as I am concerned, poetry and every other art was, is, and forever will be strictly and distinctly a question of individuality" ("E. E. Cummings"). His unique writing style is also a testament to how he valued individuality and creativity—how his poetic style was drastically different from most of the poetry that had been written before him.
"Anyone lived in a pretty how town" begins with "anyone" who is a typical—and individual—citizen in this town. He is presented as an average person, with little detail about his personal life. It can be inferred, however, that he is enthusiastic, as he "sang his didn 't" and "danced his did" (line 3), happily doing whatever is asked of him, whether or not it is something he wants to do (Kidder 144). Despite his cheerful disposition, it seems that he is unimportant to the rest of the town. The "women and men"—a group rather than an individual—"cared for anyone not at all" (line 6), and Cummings ...
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...attention to the idea that the townspeople are cold and indifferent to the dead.
Knowing now the contrast between the individuals and the overall group of townspeople, it is easier to hypothesize why Cummings called his poem 's setting a "pretty how town." Out of all the questions one could ask, the most profound is "why." In a place with a group of people focused on their daily existence, who do not care for "anyone," and who quickly overcome tragic events, it is unlikely that they would ask why something happens. The most thoughtful question they might ask is "how" it happens, and then they would continue with their own lives (Macksoud 73). Cummings makes the point in his poem that everyone has the potential to be a passionate "anyone," but as time passes and people come together in a society, they begin to lose their uniqueness and eventually stop caring.