Comment 15 of 419, added on March 19th, 2005 at 2:20 PM.
As many have before me, I will offer my reading of the poem, stanza by
"since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;"
I take this to mean that the flow of time is irrelevant; that when you
first feel something, everything else occurs simultaneously. If you will
ultimately develop a relationship with this person, that is evident from
the first moment you meet. I take this to be cummings' explanation of the
age-old whispering of newfound lovers, "I feel like I've known you
"wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world"
Spring is a common theme in cummings' poetry. He introduces it fairly
often as a symbol for new life; new worlds for exploration. Here, I see
this to mean that the novelty of intense love can make one do things that
one would otherwise not do, "while Spring is in the world" thus implying
that the love is in its beginning stages, an implication strengthened by
the previous stanza (a nearly Donne-like poem perhaps--"If we EVER will
have sex, why not now? Syntax doesn't matter.").
"my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
- the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says"
Blood approving can have many readings. It perhaps suggests that down to
the very marrow of his existance, he loves this lady. Or, maybe, it
suggests the flush of a new love.
Kisses being a better fate than wisdom is fairly self-explanatory. It's a
stark contrast to the poems of such literary greats as Shakespeare, who
flatter their lovers by reaffirming their immortalization in their poetry.
It's a typical cummings thing to do, swearing by flowers. In his poetry,
flowers are given a near-idolized position. In fact, poetry as a whole is
often seen as "flowery."
At this point, I fall into a reiteration of other readings--I agree that
"the best gesture of my brain is less than / your eyelids' flutter" hints
at an ineffability of love. All this poetry, perhaps he means, can be at
once surpassed by a single flutter of your eyelids.
"we are for each other; then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph"
What love has not been characterized by a feeling of being "for each
other"...has not been characterized by laughter and warm embraces?
I take the last line of this stanza to mean that life is not a paragraph,
with strict syntax and grammar and sentences and punctuation. Time, again,
is both flowing and occurring simulatneously.
"And death i think is no parenthesis"
It's interesting to see this sort of self-awareness in cummings' poetry.
He is the master of parentheses, throwing them in places where, to even the
least critical grammatical eye, they don't belong. With these parentheses,
he makes brilliant commentary on the nature of life and love. Yet this
poem is lacking in any parentheses. A parenthesis orders things; gives
them a syntax and a structure, something that cummings evidentally was
trying to avoid in this poem.
And even death, he boldly claims, could not give a syntax to this exciting
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