[anyone lived in a pretty how town]
By e e cummings
Women and men (both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain
children guessed (but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more
someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then) they
said their nevers they slept their dream
stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)
one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was
all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.
Women and men (both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain
Summary of [anyone lived in a pretty how town]
- Popularity of [anyone lived in a pretty how town]: Written by e e cummings, an American poet, writer, and essayist, the poem [anyone lived in a pretty how town] first appeared in 1940. It won instant popularity despite its odd structure and amazing style. Exploring the themes of conformity, individuality, love, and the passage of time in a small town through this experimental style, characterized by unconventional grammar and wordplay, [anyone lived in a pretty how town] demonstrates lyrical and rhythmic qualities. That is the very reason that it still makes ripples among students when reading in class and makes readers stand up and think.
- [anyone lived in a pretty how town] As a Representative of Experimental Style: [anyone lived in a pretty how town] is a representative of a unique poetic style though it explores conventional themes such as individuality, conformity, love, and time. The poem, with its unconventional style, challenges traditional literary norms. Yet it portrays the lives of ordinary individuals in a small town, highlighting their indifference toward the central character, “anyone,” and their collective disregard for his existence. Almost everything that this poem represents is unconventional including its style and content. Using lyrical language, the poem explores the complexities of human relationships, the life cycle, and the universal experiences of joy, grief, and longing.
- Major Themes in [anyone lived in a pretty how town]: [anyone lived in a pretty how town] explores the cycles of life, the indifference of society, the power of love, and the passage of time. The poem explores the recurring seasons and the nature of existence represented through the seasonal cycle. The townspeople, depicted as “women and men (both little and small) (line 5),” demonstrate a collective disregard for the individual experiences and emotions of “anyone.” However, amidst this majoritarian apathy, the poem portrays the transformative power of love and the profound connection between “anyone” and a woman from the same village who sees and cherishes his true essence of love. The poem further explores time and its passing, leaving aside the children as they grow up, as well as the death and burial of “anyone.”
Analysis of Literary Devices Used in [anyone lived in a pretty how town]
The poet E. E. Cummings is not only excellent in experimenting with poetic writing but also in using various literary devices. He aims to enhance the intended impact of this poem. Some of the major literary devices he uses are as follows.
- Alliteration: It is the repetition of initial consonant sounds in neighboring words or syllables. For example, “little by little” (line 28) shows the repetition of the /l/ sound, creating a musical quality and emphasizing the gradual progression of time.
- Assonance: It is the repetition of vowel sounds in neighboring words or syllables. For example, “sun moon stars rain” (line 8) shows the repetition of the /u/ and /a/ sounds, creating a melodic effect and reinforcing the imagery of nature.
- Consonance: It is the repetition of the consonant sounds in words or syllables. For example, “spring summer autumn winter” (line 3) shows the repetition of /s/ and /t/ sounds, emphasizing the effects of heavy sounds and the seasonal nature of time.
- Enjambment: It is the continuation of a sentence or clause without a pause beyond the end of a line or stanza. For example: “children guessed (but only a few / and down they forgot as up they grew” (lines 9-10) shows the thought flowing seamlessly from one line to the next, emphasizing the progression of time and the children’s loss of innocence.
- Hyperbole: It is the deliberate exaggeration used for emphasis or heightened effect. For example, “anyone’s any was all to her” (line 16) shows the hyperbolic statement, emphasizing the intensity of the woman’s love and devotion to the subject, transcending individual experiences.
- Irony: It is a contrast between what is expected and what happens or is meant. For example, “busy folk buried them side by side” (line 27) shows the juxtaposition of “busy folk” with the act of burying someone, highlighting the indifference and lack of emotional connection in society.
- Metaphor: It is a figure of speech that compares two, unlike things without using “like” or “as.” For example, “with up so floating many bells down” (line 2) shows the bells representing the passing of time and life cycle.
- Onomatopoeia: It is the use of words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to. For example, the line “dong and ding” (line 33) shows the words “dong” and “ding” imitating the sound of bells, and adding a playful and musical quality to the poem.
- Personification: It means giving human qualities to non-human entities or abstract concepts. For example, “she laughed his joy she cried his grief” (line 14) shows the personifications of joy and grief as entities that can laugh and cry, emphasizing their emotional impact on the woman.
- Repetition: It is the deliberate use of words or phrases for emphasis or rhythmic effect. For example, “spring summer autumn winter” (line 11) shows the repetition of the seasons, emphasizing the cyclical nature of time and the passage of years.
- Symbolism: It is the use of objects, characters, or actions to represent abstract ideas or concepts. For example: “sun moon stars rain” (line 36) shows these natural elements, symbolizing the cycles of life, the passage of time, and the universal experiences shared by everyone.
Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in [anyone lived in a pretty how town]
Although poetic devices are part of literary devices, some of them differ in nature. With the help of poetic devices, the poet sets the mood of the poem and gives his text an indirect meaning. The analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem is as follows.
- Diction: It is the choice and use of words and phrases in a literary work. The poem shows beautiful, simple, and unconventional use of diction.
- End Rhyme: It is the rhyme that occurs at the end of lines. For example: “bells down” (line 2) shows the words “down” and “town” creating an end rhyme, contributing to the musicality of the poem.
- Meter: It is the rhythmic structure of a poem, including patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables. The poem follows iambic tetrameter (four metrical feet with unstressed-stressed syllable pairs).
- Rhyme Scheme: The poem does not follow a consistent rhyme scheme.
- Poem Type: The poem can be categorized as a narrative or lyric poem, exploring themes of love, life, and the passage of time.
- Stanza: The poem comprises nine quatrains (four-line stanzas).
- Tone: It is the attitude or mood conveyed by the speaker or writer. The tone of the poem is contemplative, observing the cycles of life, the indifference of society, and the fleeting nature of love and existence.
Quotes to be Used
This quote is appropriate to use in various situations where you want to emphasize the idea of someone living in an ordinary or unremarkable town.
[anyone lived in a pretty how town]