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

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Comment 8 of 128, 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 128, 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 128, 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 128, 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 128, 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
Comment 3 of 128, added on June 14th, 2005 at 8:50 AM.

I don't think this poem has anything to do with christian presidents. Nor
do i think that religon should have any effect on a president's ability to
run in office, christian or not. In fact a president that is too strongly
rooted in christian beliefs, he becomes to caught up in pleasing god
instead of running the country.

Harry from United States
Comment 2 of 128, added on January 31st, 2005 at 12:24 AM.

I think Paul, that the man who gets picked up by the speaker of the poem,
could BE one of our political candidates. This poem is an excellent sermon
on what it means to be a Christian. Maybe our job is to take the president
we already have and attempt to support and advise him as best we can so
that he might become the man in the poem. We are suppose to take our cue
from the speaker. :)

Jessica Manntai from United States
Comment 1 of 128, added on October 24th, 2004 at 5:13 AM.

Today many americans want to elect a Christian president. This poem
exemplifies what it means to be a Christian. Is there one running?

Paul Lommen 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: 801 times
Poem of the Day: Jul 22 2015

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