Essay Question

Lines 7 and 8 hold the key to this poem by e.e.cummings. Discuss.

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00277922447843163814 fried chicken strips

    Stab in the dark: a child at heart listens to the truth taught all around him rather than relys on what he thinks he knows.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01038498107096197056 Edward Elkins jr.

    Do you write much poetry yourself fr. longnecker?.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01038498107096197056 Edward Elkins jr.

    Here is a few words about paul I wrote I thought a bit interesting you might like. Its not as longPAUL WAS TO PETER AND THE CHURCH OF ROME SIMILAR TO A BROTHER WHO IS A SOLDIER BRINGING HONOR TO THE FAMILY. LIKE A BROTHER OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD WAGING WAR AND WINNING VICTORIES THAT BROUGHT HONOR TO GODS HOUSE. PETER MAINTAINED ORDER WHILE THE MASTER OF THE HOUSE WAS AWAY AND HIS BROTHER WAS WINNING VICTORIES AND WAGING SPIRITUAL WARFARE WINNING THE GENTILES OVER TO THE LORDS HOUSE.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14293829892402784818 Marilyn

    What is the poem revealing about the poet’s character in those two lines? Is it better to be childlike and delight in sensual pleasures, rather than to die to one's self daily? Well, yes, it’s better for those to whom sin is irrelevant. The poem is captivating, but bothersome to me. There is another poem about a bird that I love: “The little bird abandoms me: My playmate’s wings ascend. Blessed by my God, Who faithfully Stays with me to the end.” – St. Rose of Lima

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    and even if it's sunday may i be wrongI don't really get line seven, other than maybe the pharisees attitude to the sabbath ? Sunday is when we do our best 'Sunday best' so it may upset a person's ego if their best isn't good enough, but of course it isn't good enough and never will be, wasn't meant to be. He is our true Sunday best.for whenever men are right they are not youngThey have become atrophied and can no longer change their heart, be it to repent or embrace something/one new. A know it all, and their ego once again might be too proud to make a mistake, let alone admit one.Then again, you could be wrong Father, and the key to the poem isn't in those two lines. Who said it was anyway, and why do I have to believe them? hahahahahaha!!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07684022781377951103 Damien

    Father,Trained in technical stuff, I have to ruminate on literature. The poem strikes me as a prayer. Lord, please help me prefer promptings of the Holy Spirit to my conceit.Lord, please help me be open to God’s wisdom, which surpasses man’s greatest knowledge.Crucified Lord, please be my greatest desire and love.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07684022781377951103 Damien

    Father,Trained in technical stuff, I have to ruminate on literature. The poem strikes me as a prayer. Lord, please help me prefer promptings of the Holy Spirit to my conceit.Lord, please help me be open to God’s wisdom, which surpasses man’s greatest knowledge.Crucified Lord, please be my greatest desire and love.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16287885673401261090 Obpoet

    So in 1938 when this poem is publish, he is 44, on the cusp between youth and age, looking back, looking forward, the threshold of frivolity and sage thinking, the line between the sensual and the intellectual. The flesh gives way to the spirit. I can hear in the verses the echo of a poem still years and an ocean away…..Do not go gentle into that good night……Old men…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14293829892402784818 Marilyn

    Nice, Obpoet. In my opinion, Cummings’ pen would have been as wildly beautiful, probably more so, if he had been intoxicated with the Spirit instead of lust for the sensuous. That ocean of divine love would have seized him and swept over him more passionately than his lovers clinging to him in an embrace. It is written that “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” This is Sunday “know”, perhaps, which he referred to that makes us old and without our manhood. Then, again, there is that wildly erotic Canticle of Solomon. . . .

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    I don't see the pull between sensuality and spirit in his words. Childlike is not sensual to me, childish may be, but not childlike. I hear a man who has always retained a certain childlikeness and is recognising that this is missing in some of the most religious people who feel obliged to act like grown-ups (whatever that means).They have lost their sense of wonder, indeed they believe they are no longer allowed it. That's why he draws attention to the little birds.To me,here is a man fully surrendered to becoming a little child in order to see the kingdom.Dylan Thomas wrote from a drinker's perspective, more more more……..excess never works,there's always a payback. I bet he never stared at birds, well not the feathered variety anyway.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    Actually I shouldn't have judged Dylan Thomas like that, it was a terrible thing to presume, God forgive me. May he rest in peace.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14293829892402784818 Marilyn

    Shadowlands,I think you are absolutely correct in pointing out that “childlike” is not the appropriate word, but “childish” and lacking in responsibility. Knowing a little about Cummings’ personal life, I believe he did indulge in excesses and wonder to whom he went for solace and comfort when night descended and the little bird’s song was silenced. May God forgive me also for judging his work through his personal life.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12594214770417497135 Maureen

    Deliberate Irishness, including the proverb about birds singing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16630532668798784975 An Anxious Anglican

    Lines 7 & 8: and even if it's sunday may i be wrongfor whenever men are right they are not youngI believe that this is one of cummings' jabs at religion. It is the "Sunday people," i.e., Christians, who think that they are right, and therefore "not young," and cummings wants to be "wrong" rather than be in their camp. He finds his edification in bird song rather than liturgy.


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