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

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Comment 76 of 286, added on January 28th, 2007 at 8:57 PM.

I agree with rr that the poem's central theme hinges on the juxtaposition
of singularity and duplicity. Again, the pairing of letters (particularly
the two ls in the middle of the poem), the parentheses, the possible
layering of words, and even the number at the beginning of the poem (where
there's a 1, a 2 is sure to follow) all support the unexpected theme of
two-ness in this poem. The fact that there are multiple readings of the
word (loneliness, 1-liness, oneliness, I-ness) is ironic in that the poem,
ostensibly about the notion of singularity, lacks a singular
interpretation. The poem, like the individual, is neither as simple nor as
lonely as it seems. Furthermore, the individual, like the poem, can only
be defined as it relates to others. So, while not every interpretation is
equal, interaction with a reader is necessary to the formation of meaning.
Additionally, this is a poem about life and death. The leaf is an obvious
representation of death, while the words “onliness” and “I-ness” assert the
importance of existence (life). In addition, cummings gives the leaf
action: It falls. It is on a journey toward death (in other words, life).
The author essentially tells us, “an image of death imposes itself on my
being,” yet, there is hope in this poem too. Being alone at least involves
being, and dying implies having lived.

colleen from United States
Comment 75 of 286, added on January 28th, 2007 at 1:28 AM.

i would love to read a novel written by e. e. cummings.

adina from United States
Comment 74 of 286, added on April 29th, 2006 at 6:09 PM.

rr duffings-

You said, "Those of you who think you know it all are particularly annoying
to those of us who do."

I should hope you take this lesson you shared very personally, as I believe
it applies to you as much as it does anyone else, if not more. To follow
that up, pointing out a minor grammatical mistake in Brian's "critic" does
nothing but point out that you dislike his point of view, and that you will
do anything to bring him down a level below you. In fact, if you insist on
being so nitpicky, I might point out your misspelling of "critique". While
I believe the importance of grammar is key in helping readers more clearly
address your point, it does not invalidate ones argument, especially in
on-line discussions where grammar and spelling might not be at the top of
one's priority list. Likewise, if we judged one on simply one's usage of
grammar, than we could call E.E. Cummings an idiot, as many of his poems
follow no grammatical plan whatsoever; and almost never does he capitalize
beginnings of sentences or finish them with a period.

On the matter of opinions, I feel I would like to add my own in the
different, but valid mix. I believe that a reader can interpret each poem
in their own way. There is no conventionally 'wrong' answer to a poem.
However, I believe anyone who interprets a poem in an 'unconventional'
manner should be prepared to back it up, or explain how it is that they
interpreted it the way that they did. If one fails to explain themselves
logically, with references from the text itself, then this point of view
can be dismissed. However, if one can in fact explain what they personally
got out of the poem, even if nobody else agrees with them, then more power
to them. This is how poetry should work. Thank you for allowing me to share
my thoughts as well.

Kyle from United States
Comment 73 of 286, added on April 20th, 2006 at 2:55 PM.

No other leaf ever made so much noise, like rrduffings does, or fell so
noiselessly, like ee cummings does.

zoilo from United States
Comment 72 of 286, added on April 18th, 2006 at 9:47 PM.

We studied this poem in English. The poem actually reads "A leaf falls in
loneliness." It symbolizes loneliness as a leaf falling from a tree; it is
disconnected, lonely. The pattern that the letters fall in looks like the
pattern a leaf would fall in, swaying left and right through the air. e. e.
cummings also puts the word "one", which is part of "loneliness," and
writes the l's alone, which look like ones. (1(one) looks like l(the letter
L)) You have to really think about cumming's poems to understand their true

Bonnie from United States
Comment 71 of 286, added on April 5th, 2006 at 8:48 PM.

poetry isnt supposed to be interpreted one way or the other. it's a way of
expressing feelings through words; in this case probably a feeling of
loneliness. poetry is an art form much like a song, just without music.
everybody just take the sticks out of your arses and learn to live with
other people's point of view about ONE POEM.

Palms from United States
Comment 70 of 286, added on April 2nd, 2006 at 1:01 PM.

A Leaf Falls In Loneliness

a from United States
Comment 69 of 286, added on April 1st, 2006 at 2:39 PM.

The information on 1(a should be written: a leaf falls-loneliness or
loneliness then what is in the ( ) which is: a leaf falls. The is no "on"
in the poem. The visual pattern of the poem would help with the
understanding of it. The last leaf to fall from the tree in the fall
represents loneliness.

Barbara Churilla from United States
Comment 68 of 286, added on March 31st, 2006 at 1:45 PM.

Brian, Brian, Brian. I quote, "These forms of criticism do not give a
reader free reign to 'invent' their [sic] own interpretation." The
substance of that line is the singular thing about which you and I agree.
It needs to be said, however, that it is difficult to put much faith in a
critic's critic who is conspicuously ignorant of grammatical
considerations. How does " a reader" agree with "their"? Try his or her.
Your statement that the "author is not entirely lost" is horrific and
revealing. By the way, thank you for the amateur,and amusingly
condescending lesson on the various types of criticism. I'm surprised you
didn't pay the usual homage to the Deconstructionist School.
Brian, you are a pseudointellectual. I desperately hope you are not
teaching. Cab, you, on the other hand, are unpretentious and clearly
Finally, to that moron who thinks I am behaving in a holier than thou
manner (and to Brian),I have this to say: Those of you who think you know
it all are particularly annoying to those of us who do.

rr duffings from United States
Comment 67 of 286, added on March 14th, 2006 at 1:28 PM.

OK... rr's reading is not wrong. In fact, it is a fine example of one way
to read a poem. However, to say that a poem can only mean what the author
intended is, in my opinion and the opinion of other academics, a farce.
There are several schools of literary criticism. rr obviously falls into
the "genetic" category, wherein all that a document is, can only be
attributed to authorial intent. This is actually a dated, albeit still
mildly popular, academic view. "New criticisim" and "subjectivism", on the
other hand allow for alternate interpretations. These forms of criticism
do not give a reader free reign to "invent" their own interpretation, but
rather profess that a text is a living thing that will allow for multiple
interpretations that do not hinge on the lynchpin of authorial intent.
Rather, these forms of criticism explore the text as an autonomous unit.
The author is not entirely lost, but the author is only one contributing
factor to the "meaning" of a work. These critics focus on language as a
vehicle and understand that sometimes an individual can intend to say one
thing, but inadvertently touch on another meaning that was unintended.
There are many other schools of literary criticism that I will not take the
time to list here. But it is important to note that most of us fall mostly
into one category, but are influenced by others. Assuming that rr is
Harvard educated (and I have no reason to doubt the assertion) his
statements are highly irresponsible from an academic point of view.

Brian from United States

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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
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