The Song Of Everyman

It’s the birthday of ee cummings (1894-1962).  I present below my favorite of his many poems, “anyone lived in a pretty how town,” a remarkably rich look at both individual and collective lives within the cycles of the natural world.  The power of love is here; so is the cost of denying the possibilities love presents.  All that we are and all that we have rejected is in these lines, and, after all our seemingly insignificant days, our final place is in the grave:  “little by little and was by was”.  Yet cummings’ attitude toward the end of things is not quite like that of the cold Robert Frost.  He leaves us with a sense of hope that perhaps only the dead may know, as noone and anyone are buried side-by-side, “earth by april” (the traditional month of regeneration and resurrection), “wish by spirit and if by yes,” suggestive not only of that religious hope but reflective also of the lifetime of earthly happiness that was anyone’s simply because the woman he loved said “yes” to his proposal of marriage.  None of us can say for certain whether there is anything after death or beyond it, but what we can say, and what cummings says with us, is that life goes on and will go on, long after our own lives have ended.

“anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

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

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

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”

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