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Poetry Analysis Notes


Since Feeling is First
by E. E. Cummings
interpreted by Magali Denard

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world
my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
-the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutterwhich says

we are for each other:then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis

Poet: edward estlin Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on October 14 of 1894. his mother, Rebecca, first showed him how to write poems. Cummings was twelve when he became a freshman in high school. He attended Harvard and graduated in 1916. He was both a poet and a painter during his lifetime. As a poet, he was first recognized by readers because of his odd ways of phrasing and punctuation. During WWI, he served with an ambulance corps in France. He was arrested as a spy and imprisoned for a while.One of his first books published was based on these war experiences. He wrote twelve volumes of poetry during his life. Cummings died on September 3 of 1962 in North Conway, New Hampshire.

Vocabulary: Syntax - the way in which words are put together to form sentences, clauses, and phrases.

Type of poem:

Speaker: The speaker is someone who likes living for the moment, presumably the author.

The audience is the speaker's lover.

Tone: This poem's tone is both light-hearted and serious.

The author means that feelings come before everything else, and since this is so, anyone who pays attention to how things are supposed to be will never be capable of knowing another's true nature. During Spring, he approves of pure foolishness. He believes that love is much better than being wise, and swears to his love that any gesture he could come up with could never compare to something simple like her eyelid's flutter, since it shows their love for each other. The speaker tells her to forget everything else and just enjoy the moment because life must not be a certain way; each person can decide their fate, and he thinks that death is not a sign that anything has ended between them.

Structure of poem: Free verse

Examples of poetic techniques used in the poem:

"life's not a paragraph" & "And death i think is no parenthesis" Metaphor
"my blood approves" "the best gesture of my brain" "eyelids flutter, which says/ we are for each other"
The whole poem is a conceit, since in it, the author compares feelings with grammar.

Connection between the poem and the poet's life and/or times: The author was a very individualistic sort of person, for example, he legally changed his name to lower cased letters. This poem describes his views on life.

Most memorable quote from the poem:
"Life's not a paragraph/And death I think is no parenthesis"

© Smelli Notes 2001