Comment 17 of 345, added on May 12th, 2007 at 8:14 AM.
I see the poem as an attack on the formalities and rules of Christianity.
Cummings starts by saying "Jehovah buried, Satan dead", meaning we must
rely on ourselves for our answers. Without divine guidance people get
afraid and worship any and everything they can ("Much and Quick"). The rest
of the first section is questioning how little power over our lives we
have. Joy and Pain (heaven and hell) hang in hock, waiting to be sold to us
by our religious leaders. With so little control who dares to call himself
The second section starts with "go dreamless knaves on shadows fed" which
refers to the "fearers" of the previous section who feed their fears with
shadows. They also dull their senses with machines or "gadgets" that
"murder squawk and add" (guns, tvs, and calculators). This leads them to
conform with the "cult of Same". This leads them to hate those who do not
join with them in their cult (turns Jew into kike). Agian how dow these
people call themselves men?
The same people from stanza two are talked about in stanza three by calling
them liars and slaves. They seek truth and freedom but all they aer willing
to do is click their heels and wish. Cummings also brings up the
puritanical views christianity has on the femail form, but at the same time
his choice of the word "Boobs" points out the silliness of it. "when Souls
are outlawed, Hearts are sick," is not a call for more religion in society,
it is a call for less strict spirituality. You have to remember that
Cummings was a Unitarian, which is far less restrictive in how you behave
and worship. To him strict religious rules outlaw personal choice, and make
you deeny who you are in soul, heart and mind. This all leaves you fully
conformed into your religious team, and set to hate other teams ("Hate's a
game"). How love is nothing more than procreation to build up your team.
Back comes the question that mocks this empty, choiceless live. Who dares
to call himself a man?
The final stanza finishes the poem with a satirical stab at the people
described above. He refers Christ as a King, a powerful parent figure who
is supposed to fix all our problems. Unitarians believe in a singular god
instead of the Trinity, and do not believe in the divinity of Jesus. This
makes the King title all the more telling. Also notice that the last line
doesn't have a question mark. This is because it is part of the previous
line and not a question. In the "and waves wich only He may walk" line
Cummings isn't referring to Christ, he is referring to someone who dares to
call himself a man. So the only person able to get over the metaphorical
waves are people who are willing to think for themselves.
from United States
Comment 16 of 345, added on May 12th, 2007 at 8:07 AM.
There are two different forms of this poems that I have read. The one
already posted (I'll call that p1) and the one I prefer (called p2). The
first difference is that in p2 the the word “hand” is changed to “hang” in
the “if Joy with Pain shall hang in hock” line from the first section. To
me this make more sense and clears up the meaning of the poem. The other
difference is that in p2 the line “their heels for Freedom slaves will
click;” is added after the “loudly for Truth have liars pled,” line. That
added line is why I think p2 is the correct version, because it make the
line count 8, 8, 8, 4 instead of 8, 8, 7, 4.
from United States