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Analysis and comments on l(a by e.e. cummings

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Comment 10 of 40, added on December 2nd, 2005 at 10:42 AM.

I really enjoy Boldizsár's comment below. I believe what he wrote follows
my thoughts. thanks. i love jon angot

Swane Dawg from Zimbabwe
Comment 9 of 40, added on October 22nd, 2005 at 9:57 AM.

This is a concrete poem--one in which the shape of the words on the page
must be considered. The poem is shaped like the numeral one. Obviously
the digit 1, the word one and the concept of "iness"--state of being first
person singular--are involved. The opening parenthesis is a leaf, which
turns (as represented by the closing parenthesis) as the leaf falls with
the downward movement of the skinny poem. The opening line l(a is the
French feminine singular definite article (with a leaf wedged in it); "le"
is the masculine singular definite article.To get superingenious: "af" and
"fa" are like that turning falling leaf and reinforce the idea of
singularity since "fa" is a single noted of Guido's scale. "11" looks like
eleven and seems to blow apart the idea of singularity--until one thinks of
the etymology or "eleven": one that is left over in our normal decimal
grouping of ten. What could be moore lonely? That "s" is the same leaf as
the earlier ( and the ), but it somehow got bent in its descent.

kerry from United States
Comment 8 of 40, added on September 27th, 2005 at 6:31 AM.

Though there seems to be a lot of controversy about the first character, I
believe that it is an "l" (which to be meant as a lower case L). The
characters outside of the parenthesis would then sum to "loneliness" which
is represented by a leaf falling, apart from others, into the state of
being a single entity; alone. The fact that the "l" does also resemble a
"1" (that is, a single unit numeral), it could be interpreted as one's

Ashley Dean from Canada
Comment 7 of 40, added on August 21st, 2005 at 11:04 AM.

Though I know this will cruelly dispel some fancy illusions I must insist
that - given the usual orthography of cummings's poetry - the first letter
is completely clear; it cannot be but an "l" (that is, a lowercase "L").
cummings never writes the personal pronoun "I" in capital letter, though
that would obviously be the orthodox spelling.

The first character's "l"-ness :) is also confirmed internally by the text
itself: the letters outside the parentheses add up to "loneliness".
Paradoxically, though, the interpretations you have been mentioned above
(below? - esp. yan's and Jane's) are still valid but not because the
alleged ambiguity of the first character - which is, woe betide! not
ambiguous at all - but because of the separation of "loneliness" into
disparate units such as "one", "i" or "iness" (interpretable as I-ness,

To me, the conciseness and melancholy beauty of this poem (behind which I
still cannot help but feel cummings's tongue-in-cheek half-smile) evoke the
innermost paradoxes of Far-Eastern haikus.

Boldizsár from Hungary
Comment 6 of 40, added on May 15th, 2005 at 8:16 AM.

e.e. cummings is a romantic at heart. He uses very often romantic imagery
and symbolism. Here is the leaf that symbolizes life, and death when it is
floating down.

It reminds me of Rielkes "But there is one who gently keeps this fall into
his hand"

It is graphic poem and an open one.
If we interpret the opening either as "The one" or as "I", then the poem is
about the unique and personal experience of life and death :

liana pehrsson-berindei from Denmark
Comment 5 of 40, added on May 4th, 2005 at 8:38 PM.

i think the poem is a good one, although there is a lot of contoversy over
the first character... is it a number one or the letter l? Because each one
would change the meaning of this poem drastically, which would result in
many correct and wrong interpretations of the poem.

bleh from Canada
Comment 4 of 40, added on April 16th, 2005 at 9:06 PM.

I think it's about the lonliness of separation, possibly even death. When a
leaf falls from a tree, it makes its solitary journey alone, away from all
friends and family (supposing he's friends with other leaves, hehe..).
Ultimately, it is the end of life as he knew it... The lonliness of it

psyopsyche from Philippines
Comment 3 of 40, added on February 10th, 2005 at 3:30 PM.

e.e. cummings is rivaled only by T.S. Eliot as my favorite poet. This, in
my opinion, is the most perfect of his poems. All of the elements of form
support one thesis. The first line, "1(a" consists of two expressions of
singularity (the numeral one and the letter a). Inside the parentheses is
a picture of loneliness--"a leaf falls". Outside the parentheses: "1"
(numeral 1), "one", "1", "iness" (lower case "I" ness). As laid out on the
page, the text can be seen as the path of a leaf as it falls. It can also
be seen as a picture of a tree trunk. Or, and I like this one best, all of
the individual characters in the poem combine to make a picture of the
numeral 1—the all in one. The entire poem is a perfect statement of
solitude and personal insignificance, but collective oneness.

Jane from United States
Comment 2 of 40, added on November 28th, 2004 at 9:52 AM.

A poem about a leaf and the way it falls

Aiden from United States
Comment 1 of 40, added on September 27th, 2004 at 11:09 AM.

oh, cummings.. his representational quality is amazing. this poem
represents a solitary leaf falling. The bottom is the longest because its
the leaf completely flat on the ground. Also, although the first letter is
an "L", it looks like a #1... this is to show that when your #1 and your at
the top, its lonely... hmm, i guess thats about it

yan from United States

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Information about l(a

Poet: e.e. cummings
Poem: l(a
Added: Jan 31 2004
Viewed: 4256 times

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