The Power Of Love In Cummings's Poetry

The feeling of deep affection or infatuation is something the average person has felt at one point in their life or another, whether that be for a parental figure, companion, or something/someone else. This emotion is greatly portrayed through the poem “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond” by the poet e.e. cummings. From descriptions of the speaker’s love, to the symbols and the syntax of the poem, it is obvious the speaker is thoroughly captivated by whoever this composition is written to. The speaker is quite obviously overwhelmed with passion when it comes to the topic of his admiration for the anonymous person, and the ballad greatly depicts that. In the poem, “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond,” e.e. cummings establishes the idea that the overtakingly powerful feeling of love can create the staggering sense of being completely captivated, emphasizing the mystery and beauty of being in love.

e.e. cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on October 14, 1894, and began writing poetry in 1904 at a very young age (E.E. Cummings) cummings was a very candid man when it came to the “deeper meanings” of his poetry. He believed that the reader, and especially those writing critiques on his ballads, should interpret his poetry as it is. William Heyen writes, “For there is a sense in which, from Cumming’s point of view, from the assumptions and visions of his life and life’s work, poems do not inevitably raise critical considerations. Poems are poems, and they are to be taken for what they are or are to be left alone.” (Heyen 275) e.e. cummings cherishes the straightforwardness and simplicity of his poems, finding that to be the beauty in his many works. The notoriety of e.e. cummings is not only dedicated to his renowned poetry, but also to his unaccustomed, unique style of writing. In one of his more overlooked love poems “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond,” e. e. cummings employs his uncommon writing techniques through every aspect of the composition. From punctuation to grammar and everything in between, cummings strays from the normal-style-of-composition pack. In the book Dreams in the Mirror: A Biography of E.E. Cummings, Richard Kennedy writes, “ . . . Cummings had a special talent for converting this linguistic play into unique poetic structures and a style that was entirely new to poetry.” (Kennedy 4) This new style of writing allowed many more interpretations of his literary pieces.

As previously stated, e.e. cummings was a pioneer when it came to his new style of formatting in poetry. William Heyen compares his writing style to a salmon making its way upstream by writing, “ . . . he persisted in his stylistic and thematic leaps and glides like a single salmon making its way upstream . . .” (Heyen 276) This helps explain how new of a style of formatting cummings wrote in. The majority of poets during this time followed everyone before them in the way that they wrote, but cummings went out on a limb and innovated this new way of writing poems, which in turn led his works to be analyzed in a deeper way. Just about everything in his style of writing was different from the majority of other poets. As a result of his distinct formatting choices, more meaning is able to be pulled from his works. In cumming’s poem, “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond,” there is a lack of punctuation marks, such as periods to conclude his lines of poetry. In this poem, e.e. cummings uses figurative language to describe the speaker in his poem’s unwavering love towards his powerful beloved:

your slightest look will unclose me

though i have closed myself as fingers,

you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens

(touching skillfully,mysteriously)her first rose (cummings 5-8)

The speaker describes himself as closed off, but because of the great power his lover holds on him, he would slowly begin to open up. He then continues to use simile by comparing her gently opening him up (petal by petal) to Spring and how it slowly commences and opens up as well.

This line of her opening the speaker up comes off almost as a mysterious act due to the expertise she has while doing this. These lines are congested with symbols, and to close this stanza off, cummings uses a rose as his flower choice in line eight. Roses are known as a symbol of lust and romanticism, further highlighting the deep affection the speaker feels for his inamorata. These lines’ use of imagery helps the reader visualize the nature aspect portrayed through the writing. “ . . . garden and flowers serve as symbols for wordlessness, for the inexpressible . . .” (Meyers 1946) The “garden” could be the speaker continuing to grow his love (the rose) for his beloved. Again, cummings includes small details that enhance the speaker’s infatuation with his love. Ryan D. Poquette writes in a critical essay over this poem, “. . . is so enamored of his beloved that he does not want to even take the customary pauses that punctuation marks, such as commas, introduce into a line of poetry.” (Poquette 271) It can be interpreted that cumming’s lack of traditional punctuation marks is purposeful in the sense the speaker refuses to let the love he feels for his adored to cease or pause. He refuses to take any time out of his love letter to her to be interrupted, showing the eternal affection he holds inside himself for her. In this stanza as well, there is no capitalization at the beginning of the lines. This is purposeful in the sense cummings wishes to dramatize this never-ending intense devotion the speaker feels towards his love, there is no capitalization to show there is no beginning to his love for her. This, combined with the lack of periods, demonstrates how forever captivated the speaker is of his love. cummings also does not capitalize “i” in line six. This adds to the idea the speaker’s beloved has so much influence on him, he is basically signing himself away to her. “He is so meek that he does not capitalize any of the words in the poem. It is as if he does not want to call attention to any one part of the poem. He wants to emphasize, and wants his readers to understand, the all-consuming power of his lover’s beauty and influence, which affects him so deeply that he cannot even give special emphasis to one element through the use of capitalization.” (Poquette 272) Poquette summarizes cumming’s use of capitalization perfectly. cumming’s description of love is timeless and unbelievably profound. cummings uses diversified kinds of punctuation, such as commas, capitalization, and periods, and figurative language, such as simile, to help the reader understand the depth and strength of the speaker’s love the same way he firsthand experiences it.

It is quite obvious the speaker in the poem is utterly captivated by this beloved person, stressing the mystery behind the captivation in the first place. In Bryan Aubrey’s critique of this poem, he describes the speaker’s love as transcendental. He writes, “Transcendence is the experience of a dimension of life that is beyond all everyday categories, something that feels utterly complete, is timeless and silent, and conveys the feeling of being at the very root and essence of existence, beyond all distinctions of subject and object, of ‘I’ and ‘you.’” (Aubrey 273) The experience of this kind of love is like no other and is very hard to put into words how it feels. Aubrey continues on, writing, “ . . . it often leaves the person, as the speaker in the poem testifies, lost in wonder at the mystery of it and searching for words to express what is inexpressible.” (Aubrey 273) The speaker’s love is so immaculate it leaves him speechless. No words can describe the amount of emotion he feels towards this individual. He tries to portray this great emotion through the poem, but the reader can quickly get the sense his words do not even begin to express the affection he feels towards her. This idea of the boundless experience of love is greatly seen through the speaker’s fascination of his beloved’s eyes. The speaker mentions his love’s beguiling eyes an abundant amount of times, considering the poem is only twenty lines. cummings writes, “your slightest look easily will unclose me” (5) Here, the speaker is emotionally closed off, but with the slightest look from his love, he quickly opens up. This imagery of her eyes accentuates the control the speaker’s love’s eyes have over him, adding to the power of the unknown individual even more. In a critical analysis, Michael J. Meyer writes, “The opening and closing of the flower signify the power of the woman to control . . . her very touch opens his petals or closes the heart of his flower.” (Meyer 1944) The power of the speaker’s love is incomparable to him, his heart yearns for her and only her. cummings continues on, expressing the speaker’s love’s eyes by writing, “the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses . . .” (19) The personification of the speaker’s beloved’s eyes in this line shows how compelling and magical he finds them to be, advancing the idea of the transcendental love. With this use of personification, it is like the speaker is emphasizing the liveliness he finds in his beloved and is trying to show that the love he feels for her is so powerful it is like the emotion, love, is genuinely alive as well. It is obvious that the speaker is filled with unwavering, timeless infatuation with his love. cummings brings back the rose symbolism in this line as well, continuing to build the romance and enduring passion emotions the speaker feels. Michael Meyer writes in a critical analysis of this poem, “ . . . the flower (rose) symbolizes both the narrator and his beloved . . . the incomparable quality of love.” (Meyer 1946) To the speaker, nothing will ever compare to his beloved. He is so overwhelmingly head over heels in love with her, he uses every opportunity to show this, like using a rose as his flower of choice when speaking. The speaker finds everything about his love to be the epitome of perfection, shown through her effortless acts and how they greatly affect him. The speaker feels complete with her, underlining the idea his love for her is transcendental. These sections from the text about her eyes help explain the mystery behind why he is so captivated by her. Her eyes are magnificent and draw him in so easily, they are one of the many reasons why he loves her. The imagery of her eyes helps the reader visualize them, adding to the understanding of the poem.

From researching this poem for weeks, I believe it is easy and surface-level to conclude the speaker is very in love. However, when you analyze the poem deeper and truly dig in, the extent of the emotion he feels for her is portrayed to be so immense and boundless. The speaker is unbelievably captivated by this woman and finds every aspect of her to be mere perfection. To him, everything with her feels timeless, and he wishes to never let this feeling he has for her go away. He truly cherishes everything about her. The beauty of being in love is immeasurably illustrated through this poem through the use of formatting, punctuation, literary devices, etc..

Works Cited

  1. Aubrey, Bryan. “Critical Essay on ‘Somewhere i Have Never Travelled,Gladly beyond.’” Poetry
  2. for Students, Vol. 19, by David Galens, Gale, 2004, pp. 273–274.
  3. “E. E. Cummings”, Academy of American Poets,
  4. Accessed February 27, 2020.
  5. Heyen, William. “‘In Consideration of Cummings,' Southern Humanity Review, Vol. 7.” Poetry
  6. for Students, Vol. 19, by David Galens, Gale, 2004, pp. 275–277.
  7. Kennedy, Richard S. Dreams in the Mirror: a Biography of E.E. Cummings. Liveright, 1994.
  8. Magill, Frank N. Masterplots II. Salem Press, 1995.
  9. Poquette, Ryan D. “Critical Essay on ‘Somewhere i Have Never Travelled,Gladly beyond.’”
  10. Poetry for Students, Vol. 19, by David Galens, Gale, 2004, pp. 271–273.  
07 July 2022
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now