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Analysis and comments on Buffalo Bill's by e.e. cummings

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Comment 33 of 443, added on October 8th, 2008 at 11:45 PM.

When I read this poem it seemed to me to be like a letter written by Death
(who has claimed Bills life and delivered him to heaven) to Jesus.This
makes the Jesus in the poem not an exclamation to emphasize how handsom
Bill was but, addressing the person recieving the letter from Mister Death.
This would make the poem about what death had witnessed in bills life and
ending with a question to jesus about how does he like having Bill in

This is just my opinion that i had formed when i first read the poem,
whether it is correct or not i do not know. I just find it interesting that
it seems no one else has interpreted it this way before.

Alexandria from United States
Comment 32 of 443, added on September 25th, 2008 at 3:23 PM.

cummings plays with the idea of a big killer, buffalo bill, meeting Death,
and raises questions about the value of life at the hands of brutal humans,
and/or at the hands of the gods.

lisa kemmerer

lisa kemmerer from United States
Comment 31 of 443, added on March 10th, 2008 at 4:30 PM.

the poem satirizes Buffalo Bill. He's sooo handsome and hand can shoot sooo
fast; the word Jesus is an exclamation as in "Geez" or "Geewhiz!" both of
which are derived from using the word "Jesus" as an exclamation point. Like
everyone else, the blue-eyed handsome blonde shooter must die and face
Mister Death, who is no more impressed with Bill than with anyone else. So,
as others have stated Buffalo Bill is not measured by the superficial
things which society said made him great. What did he do that was
impressive, but look good and shoot fast and accurate? Death is not
impressed. The poem is in sync with Cummings' "Anyone Lived in a Pretty How
Town," wherein, the everday people are impressed with anyone "not at all."
But "anyone" though he is a "nobody," lives into eternity.

jon rice from United States
Comment 30 of 443, added on October 8th, 2007 at 9:10 PM.

I am very taken with the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and I think there
is a striking similarity between his "Felix Randal" and "Buffalo
Bill's"--it would be interesting to see a discussion of comparisons between
these poets and John Donne ["Death be not Proud"], Emily Dickenson
["Because I could not stop for death..."] ["I heard a fly buzz when I
died..."] Death in perhaps all poetry is an exploration or a "mining" of
this Intruding Angel as a Definer of what it is to be human--and the poet
defies the finality of death with the Eternal Word: "I shall not
die--Scripta Manent !"

Andre from United States
Comment 29 of 443, added on September 29th, 2007 at 2:14 PM.

Though I'm no authority, I thought that it merely referred to Buffalo
Bill's Wild West Show, where he would shoot clay pigeons as a trick. A
"blue-eyed boy" is a treasured, or favorite, inferring that Buffalo Bill is
quite the marked prize for death to have claimed. After all, he seemed so
invinceable, but then he just died of kidney failure.

Comment 28 of 443, added on September 2nd, 2007 at 7:17 PM.

I agree with everything that has been written and just like to add a few
thoughts. First, the method of contrast Cummings uses: "...a watersmooth,
silver stallion; onetwothreefourfivepigeonsjustlikethat...Jesus he
was a handsome man -- and then uses the image of Mister Death. All those
beautiful expressions are empty, and not just empty, evil, because of what
they mean. Whether he was handsome or a great shot or rode a unique horse
mean nothing compared to the idea -- and ideal -- of a man, or America --
that beneath the surface we are actually and historically murderous, and
the image of the blue eyed boy is the image of country which is the exact
opposite of its own view of itself. Buffalo Bill was actually the creation
of a dime novelist, Ned Buntline who devised the character that William
Cody (Buffalo Bill's real name) became. He was not a great shot or even a
man of the west but a superb performer. More of this can be found in
Robert Altman's great movie Buffalo Bill and the Indians or Sitting Bull's
History lesson. Altman does take some license but within the context of
the poem, The reality of Buffalo Bill -- and America -- is different than
the reality.

Michael from United States
Comment 27 of 443, added on June 10th, 2007 at 10:22 PM.

Im sorry Andrew but I disagree with you on the point of Jesus being a
figure of death and killing since his main preachings were that of love and
peace. Also, normal everyday murders outlast all of the killings done from

Ash from United States
Comment 26 of 443, added on May 19th, 2006 at 8:26 PM.

Im not really the type to like poems or even make comments like this, that
probably don't mean anything to anyone except to the person writing them.
However this one struck something in me as it has in all who commented. For
one thing no one, including myself, really knows what Cummings is saying.
He's never told any one of us. To me, the first part seems very literal.
His defucnt being his cease of existance. Then Cummings seems to show how
impressive of a person he was, which he was indeed. When he uses "Jesus" i
dont think he is referring to anything literal, just uses it to stress the
point of how handsome he was. then i guess he asks how death or god has
liked taking away one of americas most prolific figures. Thanks Dr. Cain

Pete Borowicz from United States
Comment 25 of 443, added on March 23rd, 2006 at 6:42 PM.

The shape of the poem is an arrowhead. Buffalo Bill represented the cowboy,
the indian killer. Yes he can be percieved as some great hero, but he was
nothing more than a killing machine. And just like a machine, he's become
defunct. He rode a watersmooth-silver stallion (cummings use of imagery)
and broke onetwothreefourfive *pidgeonsjustlikethat*. (He didnt break
pidgeons, be broke indians "just like that", like their lives meant
nothing). At the TIP of the arrowhead, Jesus. The ultimate motivation for
killing of all time, religion. The three points of the arrowhead are bill,
jesus, and mister death. All killers. Thank you.

Andrew from Canada
Comment 24 of 443, added on March 23rd, 2006 at 12:41 PM.

'The glories of our blood and state / Are shadows not substantial things /
There is no armour aginst fate / DEATH lays his icy hands on
kings...Sceptre and crown must tumble down / And in the dust be equal made
/ With the poor crooked scythe and spade."
The expression 'Jesus' is not ouside this.
"The lone and level sands stretch far away..." Shelley.

"Great Caesar is now dead clay to stop a hole to keep the wind away..."

The man that helped the railroad rip through the heart of the American
Prarie leaving thousands of bison rotting is 'dreaming' sod.
Like Superman, Spiderman, Heman, Batman and other one man shows that the
world likes to applaud when their short term perspectives are satisfied,
William Fredrick Cody too has called it a day. The Wild West Show is now

The prurient fingers of philosophy, science and religion have pinched and
poked and buffetted nature thinking it might conceive gods...All they could
do was ravish the land of Pocohontas and destroy the very essence of the
nature of 'being'.

Cummings leads us out from the real world to the world that the Pied Piper
took the children to...'a thing to dream of, not to tell'..a world where
the dying notes of the whistle of the balloon man suggests so much more
than the rotting carcass of buffalo on the Prarie.

Lakshman from India

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Information about Buffalo Bill's

Poet: e.e. cummings
Poem: Buffalo Bill's
Added: Jan 31 2004
Viewed: 97 times
Poem of the Day: Feb 19 2013

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