Sunday, June 19, 2011

e.e. cummings - [l(a]

l(a
le
af
fa
ll
s)
one
l
iness


This poem by e. e. cummings fascinates me, because it exists outside of the aural dimension we usually associate with poetry.  It functions like visual art, but sticks in the head like poetry.  The words we can extract from the poem are "loneliness", and "a leaf falls."  Interestingly, "a leaf falls" is embedded within "loneliness."  This is a meaning that can only exist in a visual mode that relies on visual arrangement of words.  A short film of a leaf falling may suggest loneliness, but it can't carry the same impact as this poem, which literally embeds a leaf falling into the image of loneliness.

The other image, "oneliness" is a declaration of solitude and wholeness.  I feel like Cummings is making a differentiation between being lonely and being alone.  "Oneliness" to me sounds like a condition of being whole, being one with something.

In terms of content, the statement, "a leaf falls" is active.  It's a statement.  The physical structure of the poem enforces that, forcing the eye to dart back and forth across the hyper-short lines, much as a leaf zigs and zags towards the ground.  It's a perfect representation of a leaf falling.  But why must a leaf falling be lonely?  The poem conjures such a strong image of solitude that any other mood would be inappropriate.  It's a lonesome death, but somehow beautiful and thoughtful.

Does the image of the poem carry weight for you in a way that words cannot?  Do you disagree with my assertion that the active nature of reading is perfectly suited to reflect the act of a leaf falling?  Are there any ways to convey the same activity without resorting to a visual arrangement?  And is it poetry, if it relies on its visual medium so heavily that it cannot be properly pronounced?  Let me know your reaction.

2 comments:

  1. http://www.poetry-exchange.com/#!poems/c1elv

    i wrote a long entry here but it was lost...lonely as me

    Go to the link above to see this poem shared

    one, one, one-iness: 1one1iness--complete and utter singularity

    ReplyDelete