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Analysis and comments on i sing of Olaf glad and big by e.e. cummings

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Comment 13 of 323, added on November 6th, 2005 at 1:38 AM.

I'm suprised no one has commented on the sexual connetation of the lines:
"and egged the firstclassprivates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skilfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat--"

It degrades the 'firstclassprivates' and enforces the image of Olaf as
being virtuous.


Matthew from Australia
Comment 12 of 323, added on October 2nd, 2005 at 5:31 PM.

Yeah, though I'm unsure of the etymology of the word "bowdlerized,"
cummings did have the curse words in his original draft. They're important
too....the pure vulgarity of the curses in the poem is cummings' way of
peripherally showing the vulgarity of the content of the poem. It's almost
like a subconscious reminder of how horrible war was.

At least....that's what we learned in English about this poem ^.^

TJN from United States
Comment 11 of 323, added on April 25th, 2005 at 11:33 AM.

I had always thought that the curse words in this poem were abbreviated:

"i will not kiss your f.ing flag"
and
"there is some s. I will not eat"

I'm sure that's the way I read it originally, and I figured that was the
way cummings wrote it. But did I just have a bowdlerized edition?

I agree with the commenters above about "blue eyed" and "blonde"
representing "pure" and "all-american" (though it is interesting that the
same traits are stereotypically Aryan). However, "Olaf" being obviously a
Scandanavian name, it may also have been simple literal description. Not
that he only meant to describe--just that it works on several levels. The
"more blond than you" line esp. implies Olaf was in many ways braver and
purer than either the author or his reader.

Very relevant today.

scottstandridge from United States
Comment 10 of 323, added on April 24th, 2005 at 3:51 PM.

the recruitment posters for WWI often depicted blonde-haired, blue-eyed
men. also, blonde hair and blue eyes can be seen as pure, and America wants
to think of the officers/army men as pure.

mei from United States
Comment 9 of 323, added on January 17th, 2005 at 9:41 PM.

Just one observation. Note that cummings uses imagery suggesting Nazi
Germany. The blue eyes, the blond hair, doesn't this suggest the aryan
culture? What do you think he means by this?

Kim Offenburger from United States
Comment 8 of 323, added on December 8th, 2004 at 12:01 AM.

This poem is about , as cummings quite plainly writes, a conscientious
objestor; a pacifist.a real person that he did, in fact, meet at fort
devens in ayer, mass. It is only symbolic that Olaf "...will not kiss your
fucking flag". This only means that Olaf does not agree with the political
and military climate . The flag represents what the military stands for,
and although Olaf is tortured for not conforming, he stands by his beliefs
and eventually dies for them, just as heroically as the soldiers who fight
and die for their beliefs in the right of war. This poem is not difficult
to figure out; don't read too much into cummings. Although he is brilliant,
he is understandable and a true ohserver and commentator.

c.fitzpatrick from United States
Comment 7 of 323, added on December 8th, 2004 at 12:01 AM.

This poem is about , as cummings quite plainly writes, a conscientious
objestor; a pacifist.a real person that he did, in fact, meet at fort
devens in ayer, mass., It is only symbolic that Olaf "./..will not kiss
your fucking flag". This only means that Olaf does not agree with the
political and military climate . The flag represents what the military
stands for, and although Olaf is tortured for not conforming, he stands by
his beliefs and eventually dies for them, just as heroically as the
soldiers who fight and die for their beliefs in the right of war. This poem
is not difficult to figure out; don't read too much into cummings. Although
he is brilliant, he is understamndable and a true ohserver and commentator.

c.fitzpatrick from United States
Comment 6 of 323, added on November 14th, 2004 at 11:10 AM.

I think this poem takes on a whole new relevance given the current
political and world situation. The imagery of the cruelty of Olaf's fellow
soldiers/officers seems to foreshadow what we know of the behavior certain
soldiers, officers, and elected officials of today.

Bridget from United States
Comment 5 of 323, added on November 10th, 2004 at 4:31 PM.

G Emtee's comment is anything but worthless. It's true about all poetry,
perhaps more so than any other art.

There is a famous story (and not aprocryphal--I know someone who witnessed
it) about Robert Frost who had just given a college reading and was
answering questions. Someone in the audience asked what Frost meant by
several lines in one of his poems. Frost looked at him, looked back at the
poem, looked at him again and then back at the poem and reread the lines.
The student then said, "I'm sorry, I was wondering what you *meant* by
those lines?" and said this louder thinking Frost was hard of hearing since
he was old at the time. Frost did the same thing as before. The student
loked at my (embarassed) friend and said, "He's getting senile. "

If you want to read comments about the poem, read cummings's comments.
They're in the poem.

John Michel from United States
Comment 4 of 323, added on November 4th, 2004 at 10:01 PM.

As you may know, Olaf was based on a real person (a conscientious objector)
that Cummings met while at Fort Devens. According to the Kennedy
biography: the soldier immortalized as Olf was taken to Ft. Leavenworth. A
senior officer told Cummings: "You men ought to take a look at what they do
to a man at military prisons... the first thing they do is give him a g.d.
fine beating. They black his eyes for him. They do it on principle down
there."

Rick Orr from United States

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Information about i sing of Olaf glad and big

Poet: e.e. cummings
Poem: i sing of Olaf glad and big
Added: Jan 31 2004
Viewed: 5431 times
Poem of the Day: Jul 15 2002


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