and Milly and Molly and May
by E.E. Cummings
interpreted by Sandy Su
and milly and molly and and may
down to the beach (to play one day)
maggie discovered a shell that sang
sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles, and
befriended a stranded star
rays five languid fingers were;
molly was chased by a horrible thing
raced sideways while blowing bubbles; and
came home with a smooth round stone
small as a world and as large as alone.
whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
always ourselves we find in the sea
Poet: Edward Estlin Cummings was born on
October 14, 1894 in Cambridge,
Massachusetts. He was born to Edward Cummings a Unitarian minister, and
Rebecca Hawell Clarke. Ever since he was young, his mother encouraged
him to write, and this proved to be one of his strengths later in his
He was known as a painter and poet, and even received his B.A. from Harvard.
During World War I, he volunteered for Norton-Hages Ambulance Corps in
but got arrested and held in a concentration camp. He was married twice,
but got divorced both times. Cummings is known for his special style of
and play with nouns and verbs. The rule for him always seems to be no
capital letters and he is known for many of his free verse writings. After
suffering a stroke, Cummings died at a hospital in North Conway, New Hampshire
1962. He is remembered for his unique style and technique, and helped
change literary expression in the twentieth century. Some of his famous
include "Buffalo Bill's", and The Enormous Room.
Vocabulary: Languid - adj.- drooping; weak
Type of poem: This poem is a lyric poem, and possibly narrative
Speaker: The poet
Audience: This poem has a message that seems to be for the
not directed at any one person or thing.
Tone: This is a light poem and has a rhythmic
up beat to it. The
meaning of the words, however are serious, and he uses many allusions
to make the
poem itself seem light, but the meaning is very deep.
Meaning: This poem is constructed of happy allusions that seem
the true and deeper meaning of the poem. Maggie, Milly, Molly, and May
to a beach in this poem and each found a different thing. The beach seems
be representative of the physical, while the sea itself is the deep core.
Since the four girls all found things on the beach, the things were all
different whether good, bad or both. The last two lines of the poem, "for
whatever we lose(like a you or a me)/ it's always ourselves we find in
seems to say that if the girls, or if anyone had gone deeper and into
sea, they would have found something greater. To find oneself means to
beyond all the good the bad and physical, and dig deeper.
Structure of poem: Free verse. This poem
is made of six couplets, but
only three of them rhyme. The rhyme pattern is: aa, bc, de, fc, gg, hh-
Examples of poetic techniques used in the poem:
and milly and molly and may"
" a shell that sang so sweetly"
small as a world and as large as alone"
always ourselves we find in the sea"
befriended a stranded star"
sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and
milly befriended a stranded star"
"which raced sideways while blowing bubbles: and
may came home with a smooth round stone"
beach/ physical, the Sea/deeper and more emotional
Connection between the poem and the poet's life and/or
times: Politically, Cummings was a liberal leftist, and tried
to spoke out against many things. This poem after some reflection seems
to be able to connect with those feelings of a
restricting government or times.
Most memorable quote from the poem: "as small as a world
and as large as alone."
© Smelli Notes 2001