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Analysis and comments on 1(a... (a leaf falls on loneliness) by e.e. cummings

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Comment 62 of 252, added on February 16th, 2006 at 1:48 PM.

Listen up.

You are about to receive a fairly thorough analysis. I'm compelled to do
this because I've read too much drivel on this site. By the way, a poem
does not mean what YOU think it means. Some C average, idiot English
teacher taught you that. It means what the poet intended it to mean. It is
only slightly tempered by what you, the highly questionable reader and
loose cannon of epic proportions, brings to the table. Fellow cannons, let
us proceed.
Parentheses occur in pairs. The beginning and end of the relationship are
graphically suggested by the positioning of the parentheses. It is no
accident that 2 letters (a couple) are paired as the leaf falls until the
word "one" shockingly appears. It's over. Notice how the "l" following
"one" looks hauntingly like a person standing totally alone.
Why then, is "iness" so large a word when juxtaposed with all the other
words in the poem? I'll offer that "iness" is I-ness. The state of being
I ..... the very alone individual.
We have thus progressed from 1/2 parentheses + "a" (one person beginning to
combine with another?) to the other 1/2 parentheses + "s" (one person
nearing the end, starting to finish? to disengage?) and winding up outside
the parentheses of the relationship quite existentially alone .....
returning, as it were, to I-ness.
LOOK at the poem. That is much of what cummings is trying to say.
Loneliness is "one-liness."
I have a Harvard education and entirely too much tIme on my hands. I hope
this has amused you.

rr duffings from United States
Comment 61 of 252, added on February 5th, 2006 at 9:32 PM.

This poem is very intriguing, though it might be a bit confusing the first
time you read it, especially if you haven't seen a poem with such form
beforehand. I love how Cummings went outside the box in the sense of
conventional means of writing poetry. The structure of the poem is
fascinating and I love how he used the structure to amplify the effects. As
many have pointed it out already, the way he's written the poem actually
does correspond to the pattern of a falling leaf. Instead of just reading
the words in a straight line, Cummings has provided a visual means of
impact as well. As for the interpretation of the first character, I agree
that it can be both a number 1 and a letter l. The 1 symbolizes the one
leaf, and the l is the first letter of the word "loneliness".

Truly amazing poem in my books. :)

Vero from Canada
Comment 60 of 252, added on January 27th, 2006 at 10:17 AM.

Loneliness is momentarily interrupted by the falling of a leaf.

Marel from Argentina
Comment 59 of 252, added on January 25th, 2006 at 10:23 PM.

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.

VC
Comment 58 of 252, added on January 3rd, 2006 at 12:33 PM.

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

liz from United States
Comment 57 of 252, added on December 23rd, 2005 at 4:44 PM.

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.

Pablo from Argentina
Comment 56 of 252, added on December 15th, 2005 at 12:42 PM.

agnes, your teacher was probably just hitting on you.

shawn
Comment 55 of 252, added on December 7th, 2005 at 11:45 AM.

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"



Bah!!

Anthony
Comment 54 of 252, added on November 23rd, 2005 at 8:19 PM.

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.


amy from United States
Comment 53 of 252, added on November 18th, 2005 at 2:32 PM.

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!

Agnès from France

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Information about 1(a... (a leaf falls on loneliness)

Poet: e.e. cummings
Poem: 1(a... (a leaf falls on loneliness)
Added: Feb 20 2003
Viewed: 1934 times


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