1(a… (a leaf falls on loneliness)





Analysis, meaning and summary of e.e. cummings's poem 1(a… (a leaf falls on loneliness)


  1. Marel says:

    Loneliness is momentarily interrupted by the falling of a leaf.

  2. VC says:

    I read this poem last year in American Literature class and I love it. I love how the word “loneliness” is broken up.. and I remember noticing the “ONE” by itself and it really makes the whole mood more apparent. I never knew that one bit about the “1” and “l” and how it’s meant to be both.

  3. liz says:

    it is a pretty lonely feeling to imagine one leaf falling from a tree

  4. Pablo says:

    I think the poem was made with the idea of iconicity; the verbal unit represents itself which it means: the letters fall vertically on loneliness, like the leaves do.

  5. shawn says:

    agnes, your teacher was probably just hitting on you.

  6. Anthony says:

    To the first poster in this comments section: one reason you may have difficulty understanding the poem is that the title it was given on this site is incorrect. His poetry is generally untitled (as was this work) so they usually go by the first lines of the poem when you refer to them. In that case, the title would be 1(a or l(a. A second (horrible) mistake is that whoever typed the title out as a single line actually made the mistake of adding an extra “on” where the letters “on” don’t exist in the lines of the poem. it’s not “on” loneliness, it’s “l (a leaf falls) oneliness” or, changing the letters a bit, “(a leaf falls) loneliness”


  7. amy says:

    this is the kind of poem I feel like I need special knowledge to understand. It is like some modern art: if you don’t have any context or understanding of what the writer/artist is thinking and doing, you are left scratching your head. Sometimes I can feel this way looking at a canvas that is painted all white. It is a very educated man being daring and stepping outside of what he knows and has learned. This is a subversive statement against the whole notion of what poetry is? Is Cummings re-shaping poetry? the meaning is ambiguous. A leaf cannot fall on loneliness. cummings is trying to make our brains explode.

  8. Agnès says:

    one of my teachers gave me another interpretation to this poem. she saw it as sexual…I explain:

    cummings spoke and wrote French, so we can see l(a and le as “la” and “le”, the feminine and masculine “the”. so, la and le are making af and fa ( I let you imagine…), and in this, they are two (ll).after, comes the plural mark “s”.
    at this moment, there can be 2 interpretations: first, love unites them and they become one, repeated by l, or, it did not happen so well, and they are separated and become lonely again with one and l ( each one by his side).
    finally, iness could be read as I-ness, the notion of the self, and sex would become a way to express yourself, as transcendence…
    this is an interresting point of view, but I wonder what the teacher had in mind…
    by the way! as there only english speaker here…what does e.i or i.e mean? please, that bothers me!
    I hope you understand what I said, english is not my motherly tongue…bye!

  9. Stephanie says:

    this was the first Cummings poem i ever read, and i think it is beautiful.
    it was explained to me as a leaf falling from a tree of soldiers, and the words “leaf” and “falls” are broken up to symbolize the flipping motion of the leaf. and the word “loneliness” is broken up because it is so lonely that it doesn’t even feel like one word. also, the number 1 at the beginning, represents the futility of just one soldier.

  10. cory says:

    what if the poem isnt about deparity? i took it as individuality. when the leaf falls from the tree it is becoming its own identity. it is lonely only because it has not yet hit the ground (realized its identity) and it longs for the comfort of the group (tree full of leaves)

  11. Nick says:

    The first character is both a “1” and and “l” as others have noted. When Cummings wrote the poem, the coomon typewriter font did not distinguish — at all — between them. It’s intentionally ambiguous.

  12. helen says:

    I think this poem is beautiful. I am only 15 years of age so I may not know much about poems, but I loved this poem the very first time I read it and I think the simplicity of it is what makes it so unique.

  13. Andrea says:

    I believe, when you look at his poem-and I looked and read it many times before I GOT it-one can visualize how a slender leaf may twirl as it falls to the ground. It falls as a single entity. If you take the enclosed verse (a leaf falls) then go back to read the left over letters, you get “loneliness”-the two simply come together and create a lonely leaf falling. That’s my take on this poem and I’m sticking to it. Peace, Andrea

  14. nevo says:

    too twisted for my taste,the man was crazy!!!

  15. kerise says:

    I don’t like this. Five words does not count as a poem, no matter which way you organize it.

  16. jessie says:

    before i read “l(a,” i wrote an untitled poem about loneliness…

    i am a rose
    in the shape of a
    heart breaking

    i can identify with his feelings of desperation. “l(a” has endeared me to e. e. cummings for a lifetime.

  17. Kaitlin says:

    The reason for the confusion about the first character of the poem is that when Cummings wrote it there weren’t computers with different fonts, just typewriters. If you look at the lowercase L and number one on a typewriter, you’ll see that they’re exactly the same. We’ll never know whether Cummings originally typed a number or a letter, but this ambiguity is intentional. It allows readers own thoughts to influence what the poem means to them. It’s a very zen style, almost haiku-like.

  18. peter says:

    Its what it makes you feel that is important. My interpretation is that the poem is cleverly designed and is exactly as it says ie a leaf falls on loneliness..this would explain the 2nd leaf (11) falling between the word loneiness thus it then spells
    and the last 3 words are powerful..I one iness ,,stand alone , loneiness .
    hav a good’ay mate .

  19. Febus says:

    This was the firts poem of Cummings I read and at first I thought I was not ok. Then I read it a second time… a third and a fourth time. Things were becoming clearer from reading to reading. Then, here it is: the One (the poem is like the number one of the Roman numbers, i.e. “I”). There are totally four “ones” there. The first letter (the “l”, respectively), one (writen like this), then an other letter “l” and, finally, the big one is the poem itself. I am the One, you are, everybody is. But, what do you see there… loneliness… You are the One (selfsuficient, as many philosophies teach), but alone. You are a falling leaf in the Fall. There are so many other leaves around, who will think about you? You will think about you. I will think about myself. The moment we stop thinking for each other, thinking about us as a community, loneliness comes. Everybody is there, but I denny him/her. I am here, but maybe no one can distinguish me. We are all falling leaves, without looking at each others eyes, accepting to vanish in nothing, eventhough we read Cummings. Cummings himself was one of these leaves, you know….

  20. michelle says:

    I think it’s the simplicity and yet power that this poem has that makes it truly captivating. It’s wrote with few words yet the structure and meaning of those sole words carry a strong message.

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