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from United States
Comment 16 of 20, added on April 13th, 2009 at 8:55 AM.
I agree it seems like this poem could possibly go with any part of time. I
had to keep reminding myself that this poem was written in 1944.
Amanda from United States
Comment 15 of 20, added on March 23rd, 2008 at 10:19 AM.
The poem begins by first stating the main subject that is being analyzed,
which is all of humanity. The first line states, “Pity this busy monster,
manunkind.” In this sentence, the “busy monster” is actually all of
humanity. The term itself would be humankind; however, the poet has created
a new word to describe what man is and what are its intentions. Manunkind
is a fabricated word, however it is written in such context that it becomes
a word which describes how man is unkind. It is describing a humanity has
come to be so fully exhausted and hectic, that it has turned into a
collection of pathetic monstrosities. By this line alone I am able to
understand the poets meaning of what human kind has turned into. It is
evident that the poet has a negative outlook toward what humanity has come
to be. He is inferring that over a period of time man is progressed so far
in every aspect of life, including technology, medicine, and thought that
it has turned into a monster without stop. At the end of the first line he
talks of pitying humanity for what it has become, however he ends this
statement in the next line where he says,” Not.” Here he is taking back
what he said of pitying mankind and he is beginning to change his tone on
what he thinks of humanity. This poem is an important look at humanity
because of its central theme; man sets himself above all others, no matter
the cost. When man does this, he is opening the path of indifference to
ignoring the "little people" who then become disposable, thus a monster is
In the next line he states, “Progress is a comfortable disease…” In this
line he is stating how humanity has only one will on this planet and it is
survival and progression. Cummings puts these words into such context that
it makes humanity seem as if the only thing that it is concerned with is it
s own advancement on this planet, such as an obsessed beast. Here he is
stating the reason why mankind should not be pities for it is bringing
these circumstances upon itself, therefore it does not deserve any
sympathy. When Cummings states progression to be a comfortable disease, he
is implying that humanity is trapped in an endless cycle of rapid
development, which has turned into a fixation with disease-like qualities.
The word progress is symbolic, because it symbolizes all of what humanity
has achieved in its short term on this planet. Progress represents the
countless technologies that man has created and the countless other
inventions which have made life so easy. Technology is defined as something
which makes life easier. This progress has caused humanity to lose sight of
what living life is actually like. This progression, in words, has softened
humanity causing it to rest in a comfort, yet spellbound in its own
succession. This is because when they rely on the development then they
have lost a sense to survive without it like a machine has reduced
inherited human skill and labor.
In the next line Cummings states, “… your victim (death and life safely
beyond)” This line is meant to be described as a barrier which man has
faced countless times which both helps and yet restrains it from
progression. This line implies that death is the one enemy which mankind
has not completely ended. It is what causes us from progressing at an even
faster rate. However without death there would be no life, so its is
symbolic that something which slows down progression, at the same time it
is the fuel behind it occurring at all. Cummings also implies through these
lines that death and life, including everything which keeps humanity
intact, might be coming dangerously close to being ended by progress. Death
and life are kept at a certain balance, for they are the beginning and end
of everything living. Progression might cause the line between the two to
completely vanish, turning humanity into a truly horrific creature with no
stop to what its single purpose on the Earth is.
In the next line Cummings states, “…plays with the bigness of his
littleness.” Here Cummings is implying that humanity sees itself to be far
more than it really is. This line describes how humanity has come to see
itself as all powerful and superior in the entire universe. It sees itself
to be the only means of existence for the entire universe. However, it is
ignorant to the fact that it is only a tiny speck in the middle of
endlessness. Humanity sees itself as a cut above, however it does not fully
grasp the concept of there being “more.” Humanity does more than it is
capable of, thus creating a dangerous situation where humanity is oblivious
to what its true place is in the universe. Humanity celebrates its
unsurpassed existence on this planet and it has drugged itself to the point
of unending nonexistent euphoria. When Cummings states, “electrons deify
one razorblade into a mountainrange…,” he is stating how humanity defies
anything that may means the end of its existence. It is defying what is
natural and physically possible to extend so far, that its little meaning
such as an electron, has caused itself to unnaturally be as significant as
a mountainrange. This line is a metaphor of humanities struggle to surpass
When Cummings states, “lenses extend unwish through curving where when
till unwish returns on its unself.” Here Cummings uses the lenses of
telescopes or cameras where the lenses create a distorted view of what is
actually being seen. Cummings is using lenses in metaphorical terms to
describe humanity as a single giant organism which has distorted itself,
such as what lenses do, causing it to look at itself in a vague way,
unaware of its actual appearance. The lenses has disillusioned mankind into
perceiving who they are and where they live to be something that does not
exist. This statement makes the existence of humanity seem nonexistent,
through the sue of the prefix “un” Cummings is creating a sense of
everything that humanity desires or strives to gain or achieve was and is
not actually there. Humanity perceives through a lenses thus creating a
disillusioned means of existence.
When Cummings states, “ A world of made is not a world of born-pity poor
flesh and trees, poor stars and stones…” Here the poet is implying that the
things which man has created are unnatural. Through the means of the
natural resources of the planet, man has molded these natural resources
into poor and pitiful inventions and technologies. At this point the tone
of the poem begins to change, into a depressed and slightly angered voice.
Cummings is implying that everything man has made is unnatural and
therefore it is not “good.” He is stating how that ever since humanity has
inhabited the planet, every thing has become poorer and has declined in its
condition. Humanity is a poison which is distorting and destroying
everything that is natural and therefore good. Thus implying that humanity
is evil and it is what should be blamed and everything that has fallen
under its “reign” should not be held responsible but pitied for its
I am only in high school so im not sure you should really take most of this
stuff for real.
Wahaj C. from United States
Comment 14 of 20, added on April 24th, 2007 at 10:49 PM.
i think that when he talks about "unwish returns on its unself" he is
saying that after you try and change what has happened, or what people
wanted, when you do that, there is nothing to take back. its "un"
just the ramblings of a high school student
Conor from United States
Comment 13 of 20, added on February 25th, 2006 at 4:06 PM.
My first response to the line the "unwish curving..." was questioning when
the theories about the curving, infinite universe first became popular.
The curves and turns and holes that make infinity vs. the very finite
existence of mankind.
"-- electrons deify one razorblade"
hints creationism. The earth sits on a razorblade... the temperature, the
air supply, etc. being just so perfect for life. The argument goes that
this supposed "perfection" happening without a creator -- happening by
accident -- nearly impossible. Cummings next line refutes that argument.
A mountainrange is a prime example of evolution.
I could be absolutely wrong. I don't know.
It seems to fit perfectly with the remainder of the poem.
from United States
Comment 12 of 20, added on February 15th, 2006 at 10:26 PM.
poems are for queers
no thanks from Australia
Comment 11 of 20, added on February 12th, 2006 at 10:43 PM.
Just a few clues. Plays with the bigness of his littleness is a clear
reference to masterbation and is used to mock the ultraomnipotent feeling
mankind. Curving wherewhen seems a reference to Einstein's curving
space-time. The razor blade could be a reference to an old shick (?)
commercial using the electron microscope to magnify the edge of their blade
and brand x after ten shaves. Brand x appeared as a mountainrange indeed,
shick as foothills at a distance. Can't believe people are puzzled by the
references to nature--a world of born is not a world of made--pity poor
stars and trees. . .etc. Nature is better at creation than we are and we
are victimizing nature and destroying it in our quest for advancement.
Great Site by the way. I may require my students to start using it.
Andy from United States
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