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Analysis and comments on in Just- by e.e. cummings

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Comment 65 of 775, added on March 2nd, 2006 at 10:59 PM.

the ballonman with goat feet refers to a faun or satyr

satyr from United States
Comment 64 of 775, added on March 1st, 2006 at 7:50 PM.

balloon is spelled b a l l o o n, not b a l o o n. there are two l's. i
looked this up and saw this poem elsewhere, and it is not cummings's
mistake, it is yours.

balloonman from United States
Comment 63 of 775, added on February 22nd, 2006 at 3:54 PM.

all u robert frost lovin mo fo's don't know poetry. Frost is the Paris
Hilton or the andrew lloyd weber of writing. too much hype, not enough

Comment 62 of 775, added on February 22nd, 2006 at 3:45 PM.

I agree. In "if i believe", a work from his highly-proclaimed "The Enormous
Room",his title is derived from the first line in his poem. As well, let it
be known that e e cummings is the shit. He's the Jackson Pollack and Jimi
Hendrix of the literary world!!! e e is my fav!

Winnie from Vietnam
Comment 61 of 775, added on February 17th, 2006 at 12:22 PM.

this is cool

chris from United States
Comment 60 of 775, added on February 15th, 2006 at 2:43 PM.

I disagree with the other ideas of what the title means.

Like many of Emily Dickenson's poems, the title could simply be the first
line of the poem. If you look back, the first line of the poem is indeed,
"in Just-"... exactly the same way as the title is.

But that's my opinion.

Nikki from United States
Comment 59 of 775, added on February 14th, 2006 at 10:24 PM.

In my opinion, i think that cummings wrote this poem to retell the story of
Adam and Eve, except through a child's point of view. The balloon man is
the snake because at first he seems harmless but later he says that he is
whistling far and wee.

Dawnhour from United States
Comment 58 of 775, added on December 12th, 2005 at 4:49 PM.

have you ever just stopped and realized that maybe there is no "deep
meaning" that has to be interpreted?
maybe e.e. just wanted to write a poem about kids going to see the balloon
man. And when he says goat footed balloon man, maybe the balloon man just
has goat feet. Maybe not.

Katalia from New Zealand
Comment 57 of 775, added on November 30th, 2005 at 6:24 PM.

I think that this is the best poem that I have vere read in my whole entire
really long life. I like it a lot. It is cool!!!!!!!!!

Comment 56 of 775, added on November 26th, 2005 at 10:37 AM.

(I haven't read through many of the interpretations so far, though I see
some very interesting takes here. I see some people talking about what is
'right' or 'correct', and I just wanted to clarify that 'correctness' is
not something I even give thought to in poetry, so what follows really is
only an interpretation - one which someone else may have already put
forward :> also, a lot of this is very ex tempore)

the first thing that is clear to me about the poem is that it is a very
specific moment. time is not even a factor because the scene of the poem is
so fixedly and blissfully in the "puddle-wonderful" present. I agree with
most that this poem is about childhood and a type of loss thereof, but
there is no 'process' here or arc of growth. it's a single, simple moment
in springtime which by all appearances is innocent and fresh; and indeed
it's only by looking more closely at the changes occurring that any depth
is involved. but essentially I prefer to think that the focus is on the
moment itself rather than on all that it connotes.
in any case, what does interest me and what I realise most vividly about
"in Just-" is the variety of activity taking place, and the contrast
between the children and the bal(l)oonman (mis-spelt I think to involve
more closely the childhood perspective) and what these two parties actually
do. there is an apparent joviality and ease about the baloonman as he is
introduced to us, he is whistling and is presumably carrying balloons which
are symbols of light-heartedness and simple joy (and of something else,
which I'll get to in a moment); also, because "wee" as a word referring to
small size is an uncommon word outside of British dialects as far as I
know, my intuition tells me upon reading the word in its free, unpunctuated
context as an uplifting exclamation of glee, normally spelled "whee!". the
word "wee" in its adjective form and meaning is important to another aspect
of my interpretation; but in terms of action which I want first to look at,
the fact that "wee" as seen as an exclamation is not punctuated or
emphasised (e.g. with an exclamation mark) makes the tone fun but not
entirely passionate. now immediately following the baloonman's introduction
we are presented with a kind of exuberant onslaught of happening and
imagery, associated with the rapid growth and noise of spring. but there is
a contrast present already here, I feel, between the baloonman and
"eddyandbill" in terms of action or role: all the baloonman does is
whistle, and though I've not seen the poem in this way before, this whistle
seems now to be a call almost like a 'pied piper' leading the children; at
the baloonman's whistle, "eddyandbill" leave their activities without
hesitation, and there's an irony to this that I think is significant. if
the poem is seen to be about departing from childhood, and the "baloonMan"
is the epitome of adulthood (as I'll show in a moment), then it seems
awfully strange that the children are so willing to leave their game and
"piracies" behind. there's a certain kind of na´vety going on here
alongside the shift of maturing which makes the poem mildly ironic.
anyway, next in terms of action we have the baloonman (this time "queer /
old", certainly interpretable as adulthood which is understandably strange
or 'queer' to children) whistling once again: his action remains the same.
but there are new children ("bettyandisbel") who come also to follow him,
but from different activities; and here I think is the crux. all the
baloonman does is 'whistle far', the same activity every time, but each
time the children depart ("running" and "dancing") from different and
varied activities ("marbles and / piracies", "hop-scotch and jump-rope").
what I see this all amounting to is that Cummings is suggesting that
adulthood as opposed to childhood is far more limited and single-minded,
but changing and new in other ways: though the actions taking place do not
change, and actually appear somewhat monotonous and impersonal (no value
judgement is made on 'whistling far'), something else does change upon each
'whistle'; instead of the activity changing, the _people_ themselves
change: the baloonman is "little [&] lame", "queer [&] old", and finally
"goat-footed" - the last morphosis crossing over into illogicality, showing
that while in terms of activity and play adulthood is drab, the imagination
becomes enhanced and enlarged.
tying into this view of the baloonman as a kind of "anti-Peter Pan" leading
children into adulthood under the pretense of yet another fun game are the
balloons themselves as symbols; while as children life offers no pressure
in terms of goals to achieve and standards to set and meet, as an adult
there are constantly dozens of "balloons" - targets of achievement set by
society - to be grabbed at and hypothetically attained (also termed the rat
race). as far as I can see, what this poem seems to be saying, in a
slightly ironic sense, is that we as people living in society (comprised
largely of tensions and expectations such as those of the sexes; Cf.
"eddyandbill" vs. "bettyandisbel") have a kind of inherent instinct for -
to put it bluntly - money-grubbing and the furious hunt for 'dreams' which
as young children we aren't conscious of but which we become more and more
aware of as these paradigms are pounding into our heads. the scenario of
this poem is really a kind of 'merry dance into doom' in that the bliss of
marbles and piracies and hop-scotch can never again be attained, because we
forsake them for the mere pursuit of 'balloons'. this makes us into small
people, 'little' or 'wee' people, because we forsake a pure part of
ourselves to achieve things in life we are told we want. that is why the
baloonMan is called derogatory things like old, lame, little - in
comparison to the free and blissfully ignorant children the baloonMan is
haggard and unhappy. the fact that the baloonMan 'whistles far' indicates
the facades and new roles we adopt to cope with what we lose from the
transition out of childhood, which though far richer in some senses is a
'far cry' from the bliss of childhood. what we gain is understanding and
consciousness, which ironically shows us what we had but didn't realise we

the thing about literary analysis is that it all sounds so much more
complicated written out and rationalised than what it actually reads as.
all of these thoughts and theories are only connotations I see upon reading
the poem and thinking about, and it's the translating of that into language
which makes it seem analytic and complex. anyway, if someone read my
interpretation as far as this, I appreciate it. ;> if this interpretation
adds to someone's appreciation of the poem, even better. I tend to see a
kind of sarcastic or ironic humour in a great deal of Cummings' work; but
then again at face value this poem is notably jolly, so it's really a
matter of what one feels like seeing, or letting oneself see.

Kasper from Finland

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Information about in Just-

Poet: e.e. cummings
Poem: in Just-
Added: Jan 31 2004
Viewed: 5249 times
Poem of the Day: Aug 31 2000

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