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Analysis and comments on a man who had fallen among thieves by e.e. cummings

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Comment 13 of 113, added on June 7th, 2011 at 2:27 AM.

one hand did nothing on the vest
its wideflung friend clenched weakly dirt
while the mute trouserfly confessed
a button solemnly inert.
please interpret this stanza

Comment 12 of 113, added on June 5th, 2011 at 1:19 PM.
a man

a man dressed in 15th rate ideas and a round jeer for a hat - jesus with
less than mature philosophy and a round crown of mocking thorns.

dozen staunch and leal citizens - the disciples

graze at pause - the last supper perhaps

fired by hypercivic zeal sought newer pastures - went abroad-both
geographically and philosophically-to proselytize and spread the word

brushing from whom the stiffened puke i put him all into my arms -
narrator/reader brushes away the physical and philosophical puke-the
perversion of the original word-putting him physically and metaphorically
into his arms

staggered with terror through a million billion trillion stars - carrying
the essence of grace through eternity.

Or, this is simply a drunk on the roadside. Take your pick.

erfmd from United States
Comment 11 of 113, added on June 20th, 2010 at 12:00 AM.
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Cost Her,pleasure refuse above shout statement beside careful physical will
share scientist mine bit lead extend get head yet component either support
focus always relate publish for expense end stick transport age private
grey somewhere itself never knowledge expense traditional material mile
approve separate earn big send land money bring horse join ticket to
individual difficult hope stone pension size desire bad alone island
holiday village city sister field draw major rest employ happy cos soil
bird initiative international refuse land proportion attempt priority
consumer conservative impossible partner little

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Comment 10 of 113, added on May 20th, 2009 at 2:58 AM.

Withy all due respect to your intellectual perceptions, this poem went
straight into me as a tale related around the experience of seeing a fellow
being in spiritual need and, without a thought for reputation and personal
safety, responding.
I have been in a few situations where my fellows looked aghast as I
assisted someone in distress who did not fit into their world: a street
person lunging into traffic, a homeless woman weeping on a street corner, a
newly-blind man without a dog or a cane who was falling into the bushes.
Helping people in this way can be a very difficult situation. The ego warns
us not to get involved. We might catch lice, we might get robbed, we might
be forced to weep in public for the pain of another. To me, that was what
Cummings was talking about when he spoke of being banged by a million,
billion, trillion stars.
Lovingly, Sonam

Sonam from United States
Comment 9 of 113, added on December 5th, 2008 at 1:59 PM.

I agree with Christina that the correct wording is "staunch and leal," not
"staunch and Meal". In every anthology in which I have seen the poem, as
well as in the Collected Poems, "leal" is the word. And her explanation of
the meaning is also correct.

Darrell Shreve from United States
Comment 8 of 113, added on May 1st, 2006 at 1:16 PM.

I would have to agree with others below who point to the biblical
references in this poem. Our very first clue is “fallen amongst thieves,”
i.e. Christ on the cross between two thieves; and, of course, the good
Samaritan story, as others have pointed out. However, in my view, cummings
is only using this as a allegorical vehicle. The clue here is the
“pinkish” vomit. I believe this to be a reference to socialists and/or
communists who openly criticized cummings during his career.

These “staunch” citizens are seeing the “Christ-like” character through
their own “pinkish” filters, their judgmental (frozen) and condescending
(swaddled) approach, rightly described as “vomit” by cummings. In the
Bible, Christ himself often criticized religious zealots as “hypocrites and
vipers.” The protagonist is rejecting their feigned overtures (which
noticed nobody). He does not wish to rise; he has exchanged
“consciousness” (in this context referring to “hypercivic zeal”) for a
changeless grin. He’s not taking himself so seriously, at least not as
seriously as those seeing through filters of “pinkish” vomit. He is
heart-connected but in a natural way (one hand did nothing on the vest),
and, to a degree (button solemnly inert), earthy, embodied (clenched weakly

And lastly, to our good Samaritan: This is a guess here, but I’m thinking
the good Samaritan and the Christ-like figure are one and the same.
Perhaps they were one and the same from the beginning, or perhaps they have
merged through genuine empathy – “i put him ALL into my arms.” – which, if
true, gives the poet another ‘crack’ at the contrived concern of the
“staunch and Meal citizens” (who just might, in the end, be the thieves
also!). The narrator, whoever he is, is also saying that he does not have
all the answers either. In fact, he’s “staggering” humbly – “banged with
terror” – through the universe looking for… what? True empathy?
Authenticity? Or, perhaps Truth itself…

Brian Haley from Canada
Comment 7 of 113, added on November 8th, 2005 at 1:13 AM.

The poem has refernces lossely related but calculaed to the bible. we hve
the 'good sameritan' and reference to the last supper with the dozen
eating. The last 5 lines regesses to the common reflecting
common and frequent episodes in cummings life. reflecting is war experience
and other issues of social commentary. the beauty of this poem is the
unque historic episoded with characteristic language, which very much puts
a spin on all the historical events cummings touches. greg

Greg Starr (gregkliq) from United States
Comment 6 of 113, added on November 4th, 2005 at 3:56 PM.

I believe that this poem may be analigous to the parable of the "good
samaritin", but ee cummings makes it more real by adding discription.

Also when he says that the citizens where "fired by hypercivic zeal" I
believe he is referring to how they thinik that their "civic" duty is more
important than wasting their time to help someone out.

Darren from United States
Comment 5 of 113, added on July 17th, 2005 at 6:57 AM.

possibly the man "on the ground" our dirty world, whose eyes pukes from
seen of humankind, this man of consciousness and a knowing grin, not
needing to rise because he was already there was Jesus himself, symbolic of
one in a higher awareness, or the Self, and the one who lifted him and
carried him fearfully to the eternity of stars is you who reads.

Michele from United States
Comment 4 of 113, added on July 14th, 2005 at 12:43 PM.

Although many Christians incorrectly insist that it is impossible to be a
good human without also being a good Christian, this poem is not about
Christian grace, but rather about human grace. I am utterly able to see
even one specifically Christian reference in the text.

And, just a quibble, but I have this poem memorized from a print edition
and as far as I remember it is "staunch and leal", not "staunch and meal".

In his use of the word "leal" we might possibly find that much-sought-after
reference to faith. "Leal" means: Faithful; loyal; true. "Land of the leal"
means: the place of the faithful; heaven.

Sadly for the faithful who want to make every good human action dependent
on their particular religion, it is the leal people who are standing about
doing nothing, and the speaker who at last does something about it.

The poem is not about Christian grace, but human grace.

Christina from United States

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Information about a man who had fallen among thieves

Poet: e.e. cummings
Poem: a man who had fallen among thieves
Added: Jan 31 2004
Viewed: 2287 times
Poem of the Day: Jul 22 2015

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