anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

Analysis, meaning and summary of e.e. cummings's poem anyone lived in a pretty how town

165 Comments

  1. Robin says:

    I read this poem in my college lit class, when told we could write our paper on any poem we read, i chose this one. I fell in love with Cummings as soon as I read this poem.It brought tears to my eyes for several reasons. Not much literature can do that. Now I read as much of his work as I can find. I am glad I still have my book since they took it off tis site….

  2. tima says:

    i want to see this poem in the view of literary stylistic in other words i want to see questions like why did the poet used a WH question as an adjective and why did he use a meaningless words like ding and dong etc…

  3. Cris says:

    Remarkable, really amazing how Cummings play with words. At first sight i was like WTH, but then i started to realize what really the persona was trying to say. In the end i realize this poem expresses more sadness than happiness. First of all a pretty how town its a metaphor of a imaginary town, the town of every person imagination, because in real life there is no pretty town. Anyone represents any person on this imaginary town, you and me. And noone represents the loneliness of people, that in the end will be the one that has and will be there for you.

  4. @ says:

    I say, its not really what people think it is…at first sight it looks like a love story, Anyone is in love with Noone and there love was until the end. Really? are you sure about that? Read it slowly and carefully, what does the tittle says? Anyone lived in a pretty how town, Anyone represents any person,it could be you or me. Now the tricky part is the “pretty how town” what does the persona refers with this…look closely and think of this words like a question… pretty, how? how is this town pretty, where people just don’t care for others, when even in a funeral they buried you doing other stuff not showing respect, they don’t respect even death. So in other words this town is not pretty at all, is a fake. Now the “love story”. anyone is in love with noone, come on that does not have a real meaning, anyone could be any person on this horrible town. Now noone, is not a person, come on!!! its obvious, it represents nothing, that its all. They were buried together, obviously we are in an era which people are not buried together anymore. So in other words if they were buried together it means any person was buried with no one, in other words, alone. So does that sound like a happy ending…i don’t think so

  5. samji says:

    simple 2 understand. anyone is a character that is very happy and lives in a town where people h8 him b/c they are so happy and noone is a character tht is also happy and falls in love with him. the seasons represent a year and the moon and sun part represents a day

  6. Hector M. Barrientos says:

    I have taught this poem to 2nd, 2rd, and 5th graders. It is simply my favorite poem. Once as a final leeson on the last day of school, I was reciting this gorgeous poem to my class and I was so caught up that I broke down emotionally . . . just as my principal walked into my classroom! She said not to worry, that kids need to see that poetry can move a grown man.

  7. story says:

    THIS POEM IS STRONG IN WORDS AND TOUCHING BY HEART AND MIND.IT IS GREAT POEM.

  8. kristianna sierra says:

    Mrs.Bangert, this is practice:
    I like how it makes me think. I like having to decifer it, and how it lists the times of year. I’ll get more into it with lit terms and what not after I make sure this will work.

  9. Tim says:

    Megan,
    Read more carefully before you go off on someone.
    David, I totally agree.

  10. Veronica says:

    i believe this poem to be amazing. Most of his work is extremely sexual, (this one only alludes to it somewhat,) but what he says about love and life. The people who can get something from his creativity and allow it to inspire and change them are truly blessed.

  11. chi lan cho says:

    i read this and it reminds of how bad japan is they can suck it

  12. asialane says:

    I read the poems of cummings to my children when they were just tads. They loved them, especially this one and in just spring. Then I found his Fairy Tales. Perhaps there are many adults who “down they forgot as up they grew” but my children understood and thanked me for giving them the gift of cummings.

  13. myob says:

    i have to write a research paper on this guy and i sware i am going to die because it is so boring ow can you write 5 pages on some poet who wrote about stupid boring things and lived a boring life aghhhhhhhh

  14. Jade says:

    I LOVE THE POEM! =>

  15. Ashley says:

    I agree. He takes fairly large johnsons up the ass. lmfao

  16. Michael Pelz-Sherman says:

    I set this poem to music (for a cappella vocal ensemble) in 1984; you can listen to a recording of this piece here:

    pelz-sherman.net/music/anyone_lived.mp3

  17. ani hovhannisyan says:

    i read in ‘the poetry and pose of ee cummings’ by robert e wegner, that this poem refers to his father. you see, he loved his father very much and considered him to be a very wise, and gentile man; hence writing this poem about him.

    this remains to be my favorite poem, and is next to my bed. for the first week i had it up, i would read it every night and cry. it is a very touching poem :]

  18. Mike says:

    My teacher introduced this to us a couple weeks ago and I dont really understand it but i like it

  19. sally e ripkin says:

    the poem was amazing

  20. Faith says:

    This is just my take: “anyone” refers to a man whom the town didn’t understand. He lived in a way separate from the rest of them – rejoicing in the little things like snow falling and the changing of the seasons. The children see that “noone” (a woman) loves “anyone” but lose sight of that love once they grow into the stern countenances of their forbears; they learn to ignore the magic of the pure love the strange couple share. Cummings goes on to describe the way they lived their lives – one unto the other “she laughed his joy she cried his grief”. They live in harmony – as unlikely complements, one to the other. “bird by snow and stir by still”. The next paragraph seems to imply that the townspeople lived not for their spouses, but for the community “someones married their everyones” – they mimic the happy couple’s adoration but in way that seems contrived, and, in truth, joyless. “anyone” and “noone” die and the speaker describes the difference in the way they go on in death compared to how everyone else goes on in life “they dream their sleep” compared to the bloodless “they slept their dream”. Cummings concludes the poem with the image of the solid townspeople go on about their business, never ceasing in their work, never stopping to think and admire the marvel of the steady path that time trods or to mourn the loss of so great a love – one that they must have envied even if they never understood it.

  21. Joyce S. Boadi says:

    I have always loved this poem since i was first introduced to it by my literature tutor in 1973 in high school. it has always struck me as beautiful in an odd sort of way and it is full of pathos too!

  22. Jill says:

    I’ve been doing a lot of delving into Cummings lately, and this poem stuck out to me (along with ‘since feeling is first’, look into that one as well.) This particular poem just looked like a parallel to what anyone’s life could be. you, me, anyone. Try inserting yourself into the character ‘anyone’s place and try seeing his life. It becomes an interesting perspective on what the poem could be trying to tell us: that this could really be anyone and no-one’s life.

  23. Joe Barr says:

    One of my favorites by this master. The stark differences between the lovers, equated with not just the natural rythms of the seasons and of life, but kissed with the greatest of blessings, earth by april and if by yes, and those poor, self-important someones, out of kilter with the earth and with nature owing to their own self-inflated egos, living in a town concerned with false appearances, is immense.

    Which would you rather be? Which would you rather be loved by?

  24. Lisa says:

    This poem is just how it sounds- nice and quaint and almost cute to read first (thought maybe confusing), but then it is something else when you read it. The city they live in seems nice, but evryone is concerned with themselves, sowing seeds of negativity (which will of course reproduce and multiply… perhaps law of attraction?) And because of this, the people have become greedy bastards (sorry) and they ignore what has become of anybody. The children recognise anyone and see what they are destined to grow out of- they see love. Perhaps imagination. Above all, they see what is happening. But they are consumed by the negativity and give in to it. I think though it can be a negative poem, it is also uplifting if you shift the light and maybe decide to learn from it.

    Or, at least, that is my take on the poem.

  25. kathatrina blum says:

    if you paraphrase the poem it says noone loves anyone. all the persons appearing in this poem are substituted by pronouns -> everybody is interchangeble; individualty doesn´t exist or at least doesn´t matter in the world of the lyrical I.
    also the words stars, rain, moon are constantly mentioned. they repeat in the same manner the men and women repeat their actons. nothing changes throungh noone´s or anyone´s death.

  26. lara keyworth says:

    Although I admit to having a hard time following the message throughout the poem, i think it has something to do with people changing but the places and the memories remain. An image comes to my mind of generations of families living in a town and growing up and moving on, leaving behind that same old town filled with memories and even their childhood innocence.

  27. Cait says:

    anyone lived in a pretty how town is about nonconformity. anyone and noone both live their lives the way they want to live and follow their passions, the rest of the town (representing humanity in general) resents them for being different. The line “they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same” basically illustrates this point, everyone does the same boring thing except for anyone and noone and they don’t believe in themselves. It also says that the people “slept their dream” meaning that they didn’t follow through on their passions, they fell into an ordinary life without purpose. Children lose their understanding of the importance of certain aspects of life as they grow; life is no longer magical. – but it doesn’t have to be that way, anyone and noone are clear examples

  28. Alex says:

    This poem makes absolutely no sense. It’s a random jumble of words thrown together. I could write a similar poem in ten minutes, in fact, I think I will right now.

    if by chance you may get how – alex pastel
    if by chance you may get how
    (and sleep by night if but you now)
    one two three four
    but down goes sand if by then

    she kept his hand when he was shrill
    (sing by plow and yes he will)
    this but once she gave him pill
    earth water wind fire

    children pounced (sometimes now)
    when moon doth change regular how
    where by night she make things right
    two three four one

    where? and why? and how? and when?
    and what? and who? and if? by then?
    (give him this and face you must
    for she I know) make wonders fuss

    wind fire water earth
    drink by day for might make girth
    if by if and by if by
    little by little and fly by night

    (three’s a pair and so is you)
    we bury our dead for reasons few
    but try to bring when was behind
    children forget where dreamers dine

    time may pass when lift is when
    with up comes down the bubbles ten
    ten two one three
    five nine twelve thirty-seven

    chance by chance the walkers see
    (why she once made spirits be)
    april brings some glorious tree
    wind water fire pee

    and so ends the story of bird and she
    think hard now for might makes me
    rip the seam and plow the plow
    if by chance you may get how

  29. Kelly says:

    this poem is about how love fits into life. its that simple.

  30. Kevin Li says:

    I believe that everyone is somewhat correct.
    It’s poetry, poetry has many interpretations.
    I have read many interpretations and I have come up with one that somewhat makes sense.
    So they is a man named “anyone” and he is in love with a woman named “noone.” The rest of the town dislikes them both because of their individuality.
    In the end “anyone” and “noone” both die and get buried next to each other. That was the only clear thing that I saw. For everyone that’s is saying that it is difficult to understand it’s e. e. cummings what did you expect.

  31. josh senger says:

    This poem was hard to understand because he jumps from spot to spot randomly. I believe that he is talking about how every town is the same. Even though big cities and small towns look different they both have people that act in a similar way. It also says that people are all the same for the most part so we should all treat eachother the same.

  32. alexandra corredor says:

    I believe that this poem is talking about life in general. Also growing up in a small town is the same as living in the city. I think that what this poem is also trying to say is that everybody goes through the same things just at different times in there life.

  33. Jase Nosal says:

    this poem at firstwas hard to understand because or the fragmentation used in the poem. also the use of repitition and words in different tenses added to the confusion, such as “said their nevers they slept their dream”. this created a need to think deeply about the poem to fully comprehend what is being said. also the use of parenthisis give added detail to the writters point.

  34. Alice Hsu says:

    This poem is about lives of residents in a nameless town. In this poem,’anyone’ live in the town and ‘no-one’is the only person who cares about him. Eventually ‘anyone’ dies and ‘no-one’ is heart broken, which the society just keep going. This poem is refering that people still need to live their life no matter what. The style of cummings is well shown in this poem: lowercase letters, not standard English punctuation, and repeating of some phrase, in this case, he repeated ‘pretty how town’.

  35. Kaylie says:

    I believe this poem is about people growing up and doing all the good and bad, the pretty and the ugly. It’s interesting the way Cummings word usage displays the craziness of life. Everyone in life does basically the same thing, it’s like the growing process. We all mature in the same progressions, although each of our experiences are very different, like this poem.

  36. mitch says:

    i think the poem talks about a town and the love story of anyone and noone. maybe if we read closer, there are still more to be revealed.

  37. Matthew Fauls says:

    In the poem “anyone lived in a pretty how town” by E.E. Cummings, I think that it is about how children grow up to do great things and how they see the world. The quote “A childs view is one of the most innocent things in the world” (google.com) is what explains this entire poem in one sentence. It tells the reader that children can be very innocent things but later in life they loose that innocence to the corrupt and adult world they are forced to grow up in. Lastly, this poem will never be forgotten and should be taught to children all around the world.

  38. Omid says:

    Megan, David was quoting someone else at the beginning of his comment. His second paragraph is his actual thoughts on the matter.

  39. Megan says:

    David: Excuse me, but it sounds as if you are the one who has not read his work, or you have not read carefully. You, yourself just mentioned that he HATED it when people did NOT capitalize his name, which I believe means he wanted his name spelled E.E. Cummings. Publishers had assumed that it would be alright to write his name in lower case, but he did not approve of it. You also mentioned that he thinks it is disrespectful for others not to capitalize his name, so why would you want to disrespect him? Do more research smartypants. I don’t think you had a good reason to put down all of the people that took the time to put their comments up just as you did. Think about that.

  40. David says:

    “what is with everyone capitalizing EE! Do you know nothing about the man?, he didn’t capitalize anything, so please make it e.e cummings! ”

    I do know something about the man. Have you ever read his books? Based on your comment I assume you’ve just read some of his poems. He always said that he hates when people don’t capitalize his name. He doesn’t capitalize it because it’s HIS name. He thinks it’s disrespectful for others to not capitalize it.

  41. Teya Yu says:

    I think this poem is talking to all people who are from the idyllic small town. Picture a Bedford Falls kind of place right out of “It’s a Wonderful Life”. I dont really get the reference to the bells, but as someone mentioned it signals the passing of time, and I suppose that makes sense.`I think the mentioning of seasons does match the passing of time.
    Then the next line is “he sang his didn’t he danced his did”. It makes me think of the proverb about actions speak louder than words. And the person told all the things he wouldn’t do, but we can see what he actually did through his actions. (Like people may say when I grow up I am going to get out of this small town, but years later, they are still in the same place).

    I read how somebody mentioned the little and small relates to the size of a person’s mind and I liked that explaination (otherwise I had no idea), but I feel this one reflects how people are becoming more distnat from eachother and more selfish. “They sowed their isn’t they reaped their same” to me means that they did not put all of their possible effort into the things they did, and the results they got back were also less than perfect. The last line in that stanza again marks the passing of time.

    The “children guessed but only a few as down they forgot as up they grew)” to me relates to the innocent dreams of a child. I remember how when I was a child I wanted to be a rockstar and now my son is thinking of being a fighter pilot, astronaut, or garbage man… the thing is that all kids have plans and dreams when they are young, but as they grow older they forget.) So the idea is that children tend to have big dreams when they are young but they forget them as they grow older. (the last line is one I cannot make so much sense of… but maybe just again echoing the distance from others or isolation… but also maybe hinting that at this point that the unimportant person has not found his true love or soulmate)

    So after some time passes, it is time to add another leaf to the so called family tree… a girl comes a long who shares in the job and grief of the man (which I think reflects the pre womans lib attitude of the rold of a woman towards a man.) I dont understand the bird by snow and stir by still part… but the part that anyones any was all to her… refers to the parents having a child who is important to the girl…

    and eventually they get married…. someones married their everyones (so when you get married the person you care most about is your everyone) and as a married couple the experience both happiness and sadness. and they get through their difficult times and continue with their life. the “sleep wake hoe and then they said their nevers and they slept their dream) this refers to how you get settled in a pattern of life go to bed, wake up, work, and repeat…. there are things that you say you are never going to do (i.e. I am never going to be like my parents or I would never have any children) and then you end up never taking action to achieve the things in your mind.

    This next one is one of my favorite stanzas. First it refers to the passing of time… then “and only the snow can begin to explain how children are apt to forget to remember with up so floating many bells down) I dont get the part about the bells… but I think the part about snow can be understood in this way…. Perhaps if you are from a northern area where you get a lot of snow you can remember as a child how magical and exciting the snow once was, you could spend a long time outside building snowmans, sledding, having snowball fights, building a snowfort, making snowangels…. but as time passes, snow just becomes a cold burden that you need to shovel it looses its magic…. and because the snow experiences this change in attitude from people in how something is a magical wonderland can turn to a freezing burden, the snow has felt this through the contact with people and it can begin to explain how children forgot the things that they guessed they would become when they are younger…

    the part about one day anyone died I guess… I guess I think of this is a metaphorical death. There comes a point in your life when you lose your dreams… this is when you die. I have met many people who are living but their soul or spirit is dead. Consider how much life is in the people who are stuck in a cubical knowing they will never achieve the things that hoped to do. There also comes a point in the marriage when the couple grows distant and maybe people also stop caring about eachother so much… so it does not necessarily have to be a real death but more of a spiritual death. The busy folk just pass the who have lost their dreams and little by little was by was all by all and deep by deep (yeah, I dont get that part at all.) Maybe maybe slowly people let of of their dreams little by little and they become memories of the past and get buried deeper and deeper in the memory once they have been let go and as time passes they find instead of ambitious hopes and dreams they are let go and the only dreams people have are the ones when they are sleeping but they are no longer the goal oriented dreams. All people are experiencing this and (dont get the earth by april) and I dont understand the part wish by spirit and if by yes.
    Women and men all live their time on the life and they get the things from the effort that they have provided, and their time here passes (this is the actual death—not the metaphorical one) and again the reference to nature.

    Over all I sometimes feel the poem is incredibly depressing, but at others I can see something that is completly inspirational. I think it is sad in the sense that people grow up and forget their dreams, but I find it inspirational in the sense that I feel this poem tries to remind you that that is something that happens and by calling your attention to it, it encourages you not to forget your dreams but to accomplish something. I think it is important to remember we only have a short time to accomplish things.

    I feel the overall tone as the poem is read is happy and uplifting, and I guess that is why I feel the poem is not intended to be depressing.

  42. Mary says:

    It is only confusing because he uses general pronouns that are none specific. If you substitute all the ‘anyone’s and ‘no one’s for a name the poem actually makes sense. It’ s a story of someone’s life.
    The reason why it is no specific is so that everyone can better apply the poems to themselves and their own lives.

  43. flor says:

    i found this poem accidentally when i was going through my english book. i had to pick three to analyze and i thought that this was a wonderful poem. I think that the mention of the seasons and the stars is to show the passage of time just as the tolling of the bells. Cummings describes growing up and the realization that our lives are not always what we wanr them to be. He describes how we repress our true dreams and feelings. I also think it describes how we are invisible to the world and the realization that we cannot depend on others because they are too wrapped up in their own lives. I have no clue if this is right but i truly enjoyed this poem

  44. nicola says:

    i’ve been looking at this poem for a while now trying to figure out what it means. I’ve been reading other people’s comments and something just clicked for me regarding the line ‘Women and men (both dong and ding)’. Both women and men (dong and ding) represent the bells chiming which in turn represent the passing of time much like the women and men getting older representing the passing of years. i have no idea if that helps anyone but hey, thanks for helping me to understand it more!

  45. Shelly says:

    I hate e.e. cummings!!! jk but his poems are very hard to understand…especialy this one! I haven’t read that many but the ones I have read in my English III class are very hard. I would have to say this is a great poem because what I got out of it is that he is talking about how people go from being totaly hated and invisable to totaly likeable and very visable people. Good job e.e. cummings for making our English III class work hard to understand the poems of yours that we have and will read.
    Shelly
    in Oregon

  46. steve says:

    i think this poem speaks about life, and the human condition very well. despite our illusions about what it should be, he bluntly talks about what it will be. our dreams will become nothing, our friendships are meaningless, and there will be no actual progress in life: how things are now is how they always will be. the positive aspect of our lives, cummings concludes, is our loving relationships.
    with his tone of bitter reminiscence, he hints that we are doomed to concentrate on our shortcomings. the poem describes its own futility as it concludes the human condition is the desire to find the human condition. happiness is not external – it is being internally content.

  47. Timothy says:

    It is nice to think of this poem as being about two specific people, anyone and noone. The beauty of the story is that the pronouns speak of everyone. Anyone whose ever been ignored or alone but found their noone who completed their being. The poem, to me, is a story of the invisible becoming visible, the unnoticed becoming loved even though the rest of the world continues to evolve and change around them. It is a lilting piece of poetry that reflects life and does so with a peculiarity that only cummings could create.

  48. Cody says:

    personally this is one of my favorite poems i have read. one thing i love about it is that he manages to fit 2 similar stories into one poem and both give sort of seperate emotions but give the same central themes about growing up and such. by different emotions i mean it’s sort of sad how someone may grow up all alone but then you just have to change the anyone and noone into names and it’s no longer really sad. i also love how the lines just sound really cool and don’t have to be straight forward with their meaining. i dunno, i just like this poem alot. there is my ATTEMPT to explain why i like it.

  49. CHR says:

    Dear Jesse,

    I do not have to be eloquent to present an argument on americanpoems.com. It seems that you and I come from the two main opinions on poetry which happen to clash the most. I understand that you believe we should analyze and such and psychoanalyze cummings and delve into his life to grasp why he wrote what he wrote. But, I disagree. I come from the other, which basically means that I believe that some basic biographical information should be looked at, and that we should think about the poem while we are reading it etc.

    Here is basically what I believe: Poetry, a complex menagerie of words. Let it be taken for what it is the first time eyes make contact, read until the reader has no need for it (whether quickly or slowly), and
    remembered for what it was. My background would help some understand my poetry, but who cares about what meaning I gave it, I only care what you bring to my work. Without a reader, my work is wasted, it’s the least I can do for a partner.

    So, we both have great opinions, and we could argue and argue until our fingers bleed, but it’s not worth it. I respect your opinion, please respect mine, that is all I ask. Sorry if I offended you previously.

    — ME

  50. Lindsey says:

    This poem is awesome! It was really hard to understand at first. I mean REALLY hard. But I talked to my language teacher about it and she helped me understand it more. And now, I just keep reading it and reading it and getting more, and more out of it. He is talking about a town and two people who were kind of outcasts. But in another way he was talking about the world, and how we don’t notice “anyone” or “noone”. I think the poem was written this way (I mean like, it doesn’t really make sense if you read it and don’t think about it) because the world doesn’t make sense. I mean, if somebody “dances his own did”, and “sings his own didn’t” then we don’t notice him. I think this poem is a good way to look at our life and see how we are living. THINK ABOUT IT!!

    ps….notice that when he says anyone died he says: “anyone died I GUESS” nobody noticed…THINK ABOUT IT!

  51. Paul Forquer says:

    For more meaning, I have named the verses:
    youth
    growth
    love
    courtship
    marriage
    mid life
    death
    resurrection
    life

  52. Cindy says:

    i do not understand this poem….

  53. shannon says:

    the poem is good. it reaches many. it is life.
    it is death. thank you mr. cummings.

  54. Brad says:

    To make sense of the poem, try replacing anyone and noone with actual names. For instance, I called anyone Bob and noone Mary. Read the poem several times for it to make more sense.

  55. Rebecca says:

    I love this poem so much that I named my business after it: How Town Jewelry. I feel that this poem is beautiful and uplifting because if anyone and noone are special and happy in their bland how town; then everyone is special in our own how town’s. I make jewelry for everyone(well, girls mostly, so I guess its for noone.) I’ll have a website soon, let me know if you have suggestions.

  56. Cara says:

    This poem sounds really beautiful, he make the words sound magical- I can’t make any sense of it- but it’s one of the best poemes I’ve ever read! 😉

  57. Brit says:

    what is with everyone capitalizing EE! Do you know nothing about the man?, he didn’t capitalize anything, so please make it e.e cummings!

  58. Emily says:

    I think that these is you best poem that I have ever read in my hole life. I think that you are have good poet and you have a lot to look forwards too.

  59. Brian says:

    Here is what I thought of the poem after reading and studying it. It is not so much an analysis of the poem, but an analysis of the devices used to convey the thesis of the poem.

    E. E. Cummings presents his views about life and how the individual is able to create more opportunities in life by pushing boundaries than if he were to conform to the demands of society by using sequential diction in an informal sentence structure through a weary tone.
    The weary tone gives the impression that the narrator has been through many difficult situations and made hard decisions. The tone makes it seem that the narrator has gained quite a bit of experience by living through much of life. With “they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same…reaped their sowing and went their came,” it gives the audience a feeling that the people have been working and gaining experience for a long time. In reality, the sowing and reaping process of crops takes an entire year. The narrator alludes to this fact with the “anyone” and “noone” sowing and reaping to show that they have been through hardships together and for a long time that in fact extends towards many years. Much of this is derived from the aphorism, “One reaps what they sow.” The tone emphasizes the belief that one should be able to make their own decisions; they should be able to live their life just as they like it.
    E. E. Cummings’ sequential diction in an informal sentence structure plays a major role in the understanding of the poem. The entire poem is constructed based on the informal order of the diction. He uses what is commonly considered a “verb” as a proper noun, or may make an adjective a conjunction, but usually the meaning behind the words and the poem is clear. The plot of “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town” is simple, but it is in the subtle language choices that this poem is understandable. “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town” tells the story of anyone. The name has a double meaning; anyone could be anyone in the dictionary definition sense, and could be seen as one person, reinforcing the theme of isolation the independent individual has from the rest of society. The events all occur in a “pretty how town”. “Pretty” connotes a false appearance, describing the superficiality of the town’s inhabitants. “How”, an adverb, is used as an adjective here. It is describing the extent of the town’s prettiness, but a better reason is that it describes the routine-like schedule of the town’s activities, since “how” also means “in a method or manner”.
    The similar words continue “(with up so floating many bells down)”. This line occurs again later in the poem, and its function is to signify the passing of time. The next line is an ordered list of the seasons, also symbolizing the passing of time, describing anyone’s activities as occurring continuously. The activities are grouped as failures (his didn’t) and his successes (his did). Regardless of the outcome, anyone is singing and dancing “happily.” The women and men are described as “little and small”, referring not to their physical size but their capacity and willingness to explore new dimensions. The townspeople did not care for the individual named anyone, nor do they care for any of each other. They do not attempt anything (sowed their isn’t) outside their known habits (they reaped their same). The list of “sun moon stars rain” signifies the fact that the townspeople never change their standardized routines even when other things do.
    Cummings also embeds symbolism in several sections of his poem. He views children as innocent, and because of their innocence, can see the love noone has for anyone’s individuality. Again, noone’s name has a double meaning, expressing the degree of noone’s love (“more by more”) as well as anyone’s intense isolation from the rest of society. The children’s ability to see this love fades with the passing of time as they get older, and it is interesting to note that the list of seasons this time starts with autumn. Autumn leads into winter, which is often a symbol of death and sleep. The seasons describing anyone started with spring, which is a symbol of rebirth and change, characteristic of his personality. Noone and anyone live spontaneously for the present (“when by now”), gaining large advances from small things (tree by leaf). Cummings considers risks as tiny compared to the possibilities resulting from wanting to achieve more. “Tree by leaf” could also be referring to parts as the sum of a whole, suggesting the depth of anyone and noone’s shared experiences. Noone takes part in all of anyone’s activities, laughing and crying with him. She does this through all circumstances. The symbols bird and snow describe the seasons as opposed to an obvious list, contrasting anyone’s abstract creativity with society’s literal inflexibility. “Stir by still” illustrates rest and motion, but the “by” implies that even at rest, the couple was moving. “Anyone’s any was all to her” explains how much noone loved everything about anyone, as well as reiterating the isolation motif.
    The narrator tells us of anyone’s death with a resigned position. He knows that this event will not change the townspeople. It also evokes the unconcern the townspeople have for anyone, how they allow events to merely pass by. The double meaning of “noone” is used again to display this detachment (“noone stooped to kiss his face”). Anyone and noone are buried together, their physical bodies returning to dust (“earth by april”), but they become part of a shared dream (“dream their sleep”). The townspeople take no notice of this and continue their fruitless cycle. When they die, they achieve nothing (“reaped their sowing”, when they sowed nothing in the second stanza). They merely become dust and disappear forever (“went their came”), as opposed to anyone and noone, who achieve immortality, much like the eternal sun, moon, and stars. There are very few breaks in the poem: two periods, each occurring before “Women and men”. This is a disruption in the poem, signifying the townspeople as a fault in the order of the universe, and anyone and noone being involved in it, blending in. The poem does not begin with a capitalized letter, nor does not end with a period, showing that the cycle begins where it left off.
    E. E. Cummings shows us how society is not willing to acknowledge differences. He wants people to question traditions, and to understand them for their true intent. He is challenging anyone, literally, to push the boundaries of success so that we may achieve our dreams.

  60. bob says:

    Who is the anyone? Also, why does EE use bells? Those are the two things that I couldn’t figure out.

  61. J.B.Lee says:

    I think we have to look beyond the supposed aesthetic to the literal. The poem is about life and death. The line “up so floating many bells down” could simply refer to the soul floating up as the bells ring while the body goes down into the grave. That’s what’s so great about the poem. It’s open to interpretation, and there are so many ways you can look at it. In fact, that’s what’s so great about poetry. It becomes intensely and uniquely personal to every one who reads it. So just read it and enjoy it. If you don’t like a poem, move on. There’s one out there with your name on it. And chances are it was written by e.e. cummings.

  62. Jesse says:

    To Pan!k:

    I agree that some authors who are “classic” are far overrated, and honestly sometimes I have no idea how they came to be considered so. However, you are contradicting yourself. E.E. Cummings IS writing how he feels, whether romantically, politically, or what have you. But like a true artist, he is putting it into different [if you will, his OWN] terms rather than blatantly talking about it in bland and journalistic ways. He is being creative, not devious and “encoding” his message like some spy, as you accuse others of thinking.

    And if, as you say, he’s “just writing how he feels,” then what would you say he’s feeling? Without analysis, how could anyone decifer what is going on?

    Try to think of it in terms of paintings or drawings, some other form of artistic expression. If everyone simply painted exactly what they saw or felt at face value, paintings would get boring very quickly. Picasso, for example, was a beautiful artist who could paint photographic likenesses, yet instead chose to paint very complex messages in a different way.

    And if you disagree with that, I think you should research your opinion a bit more before you post it in fairly ineloquent terms.

    And indeed, if poetry has no visible fruits, then there is hardly reason to keep art, theater, music, and other forms of self expression around as well. I suppose that is why our country’s school programs are cutting their budgets exponentially on programs that support such things. It’s a shame.

    It would be appreciated, I think, if you would stop making face-values assumptions about other people and poetry, not to mention asinine and juvenile insults, and next time contribute a far better founded–and worded–arguement.

  63. Pan!k says:

    You all sit here pretending that EE had some great reason behind his writings, as if he over analyzed his own work to convey a super secret hidden message! Has the thouhgt ever crossed that he wrote what he felt at the time, which is probably what none of you think it is about. I’m not saying I know the answers, I’m just saying that analyzing poetry has no fruits. It is also humorous to me that ya’ll are saying that you completely agree with the supposed anti-conformity message he is trying to convey, yet you live your lives at work with your Starbucks… It’s time to wake up… if you aren’t already in a coma

  64. jennifer baena says:

    good poem its good bye bye

  65. Doctor Jay says:

    I don’t think of this as being about conformity so much as showing the difference between aspirations and the reality.

    We all want to be somebody special, a unique snowflake. And the mystery of love is that to that one other person, we ARE that someone special, even though to everyone else, we are nobody and everyone.

    Most people in the world don’t know me, and most of those who have met me probably have forgotten me. And of those who haven’t forgotten, a fair portion probably think I’m a bit wierd, if they think of me at all. Is that a reason for me to despair? I don’t really think so. That’s just how people work.

    And small towns are like this, full of people who think that their town is the greatest, when really, it’s quite ordinary. But that’s really the same relationship, isn’t it. To them, it IS the greatest. These two thoughts to me are behind “up so floating many bells down”.

    The poem just sounds really wonderful, by the way.

  66. Cathy says:

    All I can say is WOW! This poem is Awesome! Funny I see all of us somehow or another living in this Pretty How Town.. It’s called life. Thank You EE for this great work.

  67. Kirsten says:

    I believe that e.e. cummings is one of the most influential and experimental poets of our time. n this poem, Cummings uses his words beautifully to paint a picture of something so unlike the actual meaning, yet it still makes sense in the end. His use of symbolism is amazing, as is his metaphorical sense of society as a whole and how mechanical it is. This poem to me shows that we are all noone, we have all been or will be the forgetful children, and we are all or will be the women and men. We all grow up, and “down we forget.” We live, we love and eventually, we die.

  68. Doug says:

    I first read e.e. cummings in second year University and was instantly inthralled by his works. It was in a satire class and came to me at that point in my life when I was just so ready to do everything differently than everyone else, to rebell against the sadness that everyday life brought me and find the happyness that exists for those who look. Naturally, this poem stood out to me the most and is probably my favourite poem of all time! I wish e.e. cummings was still alive so that I could personally thank him for his beauty. Instead I’ll have to spend the rest of my life introducing his works to other people instead.

  69. Michelle Poremski says:

    I think this poem is about how these two people, anonymous to most, but everything to each other, get by. Their every being revolves around the other’s existence. The seasons go on, but as long as they still have each other, everything is alright. It seems that no one really understands the two… yet they understand each other, which is why they lack specific names in the poem, bc it doesn’t matter, as long as they know who the other is. “she laughed his joy, she cried his grief”- they were everything together, they could take on each other’s feelings. “Anyone’s any was all to her”- it seems as though no matter how miniscule the portion of his life, weather it be what he drinks, or what sock he wears, “no one” cared, because it was “anyone’s” and that’s all that mattered to her. At the end how it says they “went their came”, I interpret it to mean that they served each other in life, and when the other was gone their purpose was as well. And after they are buried by the aloof “busy people” it says “noone and anyone earth by april”- so it’s like they lived life as one and that’s just how they ended up. Two people- always one. No matter where they are.

    One might ask, how can someone be someone’s no one… if they are everything to them. But that’s the beauty of it, the person is no one to so many, but to that one person in life, just “anyone” to everyone else, is everything.

    Feel free to e-mail and let me know what you think or your other interpretations, I’m enthralled in this poem.

  70. Jasmine says:

    thank You, c.g.ray. (comment 1)

  71. MFEMF says:

    This Poem is unbeleivable. It is the greatest poem I have ever read. It leaves you with so much to think about. It can be interperted in so many ways. The first time I read the poem I didn’t understand it but i liked it so much that I read it again and again and finally I came up with my own interpertation of the poem. To me it is tellng you to live your life as happily as you can with as many friends and as you can or else you will end up dieing unhappily.

  72. Jennifer says:

    When I visualize this poem, I always think of two fairies, anyone and noone. I think it is because the two seem tiny and insignificant, but intricate and fascinating at the same time. The choice of language leads me to fell they are both closely tied to nature, with the seasons, weather, stars and birds an active part of their life. Take it with a grain of salt, of course, but that’s how this piece speaks to me.

  73. adam says:

    this poem has a bit of a sad feeling to it, but it speaks the truth. often no one and anyone are exchangable. i thought it was a ponderous poem; it made me think.

  74. Ashley says:

    This is my favorite poem ever! I wish I could be in love like no one and anyone were. And for those of you who don’t understand the poem… maybe you should look a little closer at the words no one and anyone… It might start to make sense. The poem is beautiful and I lvoe Cummings work!

  75. Mikey Wyda says:

    This poem is extremely touching in many ways. It explres my heart like nothing I have ever experienced in my life before. Great Job Cummings. I love U….

  76. plays with squrls says:

    i think this is too confusing but it has good lyrics and it flows really good, its better than i could ever do…

  77. ben dover says:

    i think this poem is weak and i dont think that it is good because i dont understand it. it was good tho and when people told me about it and explained it more so now i like it alot and miss patterson it the best teacher that i have ever had and thats y i understood it more thax to her hahaha i know your reading this hehehe but i like this song because its hard to understand and that makes it cool in a way

  78. Khalida says:

    I don’t really get this Peom that much. Bt this Peom is really sad, because he was alone all the time and no one ever loved him, when he died no one stopped by to kiss him goodbye. So nobody cared about eachother as years went by. as year went by people didn’t care about each other. This Peom is beautiful because it shows that it was a beautiful peom and he says in the peom that the town was beautiful too, but bad things happen to. It is not a perfect town. So this town is not a perfect town like we thought of it.

  79. Will says:

    Carl and TingTang have a very good analysis of the poem. But what you have to realize that not all writing is meant to have a clear black and white meaning. Keep in mind that authors are human beings too…

  80. Anthony Jochim says:

    I think that this poem was a poem that expressed a lot of emotions,and love, yet rejection,and shame. It was a very strange poem, byt very interesting at the same time.

  81. MR.E says:

    This poem is alright but i guess its not my type of thing. Its a cool poem and i liked it but poems are pretty muchnotmy thing. The only i liked about the poem is that they use realy weird names. The ending was pretty weird but it was good.

  82. Kris says:

    this is an interesting poem it makes sense if you think about it. Anyone and noone are off doen their own thing and everyone else is doen the same thing and living the average boring life. I like the way the author describes time going by with the seasons.

  83. gemini luver #1!! says:

    This poem I like alot beceuse it has hidden meaning that u have to really think about. Sadly sometimes it is true. There are people u dont even really get to know and then they are just gone and noone cares… but in reality if u think about it it relates to real life. Like seeing someone tha u dont really know or havent tried to know… its like they are just there and if they leaveor something happends noone would know.. its sad really.

  84. Mr. Friedman says:

    This poem makes me think about how people ignore people who seem to be nothing. Although, once they are not there anymore, people then notice what they were missing out on in life. These two people, described as someone and anyone, live an abnormal life style. Everyone else live the normal, respectable life style, while this one couple is so different that they are excluded from the comunity. People lead their boring, every-day lifestyles, these peoople are out of the ordinary. I believe that this poem is telling us that you should respect others differences in your community, often times they can teach you how to live a happy, youthful lifestyle. Also, that you sahould not ignore members of your community because if you do, your community will fall apart. Therefore you need to be an active member in your community, Getting all of hte people in your community to paricipate in activities. It is very important to involve yourself in your community so that you can have a full and exciting life.

  85. Senator Mario Orallo-Molinaro-Yallup-Goodworth says:

    This poem is a very depressing and yet is very good poem. It is filled with shame and yet hope. it brings that kind of feeling that in every life there is someone for you. Just for you. But when that person that one person dies, you feel upset, your world is torn apart bit by bit. The person anyone has no will to live and I can’t blame him. In a ordinary town their were two love birds. That no one cared for. But when they past on, they stared to care for one another. So in conclusion It gives you that hope, that someone is their for you and yet bad things will happen. And it is a matter if you look at the bad thing in a good way or a bad thing in a bad way. Thank you for everything. Mario O-M-W-G

  86. Carl says:

    cummings’s poem is a punning paradox (with up so floating many bells down). it takes only a small reversal of perspective, and language, to get a truer view of life (he sang his didn’t, he danced his did). The everyones and someones think they have it right (they did their dance) because they are like everyone else in the town which makes them someone important (reaped their same).
    But anyone and noone are truly in love and matched perfectly (she laughed his joy, she cried his grief). This genuine love persists beyond the grave (they dreamed their sleep). Anyone and noone see the possibilities (wish by spirit and if by yes) while the townsfolk (women and men) see only the limits (slept their dreams, said their nevers, sowed their isn’t).
    anyone can see the truth and live genuinely, but noone will love them for being different. it only takes a simple reversal to make the music of life sweet, but most people just get it backwards (Both dong and ding) and the music only clangs away year after year, and life after life.

  87. tingtang says:

    This is tingtang again. The last comment was my sisters and she sent it as mine(I don’t agree with hers), but here is my thought. I agree with Anna that anyone is being shunned by the women, men, someones and everyones, because it says”women and men cared for anyone not at all.” Then I agree with Karalyn that “noone” and “anyone” represent people who don’t exist because they are so different from everyone else. How are they different? Well in the poem it says that “children guessed that noone loved anyone, but they tried to forget as they got older.” So,maybe noone and anyone shared a relationship so different from everyone elses that everybody got jealous. So, when they died everyone didn’t seem to care or share their condolences and they just went on with their lives. But, I still don’t get the time frame thing,”winter,autumn,spring and something else I don’t remember.”

  88. tingtang says:

    in life there is a pattern. people are born, they grow,they live, then they die. if people don’t die, then how will life go on.

  89. Anna says:

    Don’t you people get it? this poem is about a man called anyone who everyone in the town looks down upon and shuns (the name anyone represents the fact that he is just an ‘anyone’ to everyone else in the town)but a woman called no-one falls in love with him. in the end they die together and are buried carelessly by the people of the village together and they become a part of the ‘cosmos’. ther you go!

  90. Sage says:

    Well at first i had no idea what is was about…but then i read it once more and it became very clear to me. I think it is very interesting how he used words like anyone and everyone as charecters in the story. Really made it more callageing and really made you look at the poem in a differant way.

  91. jr says:

    This peom, i think, is very confusing. It is hard to understand who the poet is talking about when he says anyone and no one. Plus what is with the seasons

  92. cristian says:

    at first i didn’t understand it, then reading it through i realized that anyone loved noone and that their love was big but when anyone died and the dream of being happy “broke” but still i don’t get why to use names as “anyone” and “noone” still the parts that i understand are good and i like it!

  93. Weirdo says:

    By reading this poem theres a million things that come to my mind but the one significant one that sticks out is he describing some kind of marriage i like the way he describes all the seasons in this poem im not usually the one for poerty but this one i didnt mind

  94. Lili says:

    This poem is very sad and depressiing, because nobody loved anyone and they are doing their own thing and not caring about other people. Since in the poem it said that somebody died and nobody even stopped to see what happen and care about them. Also I think that nobody and anybody means people that died and women and men represents people that are living.

  95. Kayla says:

    This poem is very confusing and I dont quite know what it is talking about but he uses very good descriptions and it sounds like he is saying that everyone is somone no matter what. And the people of the town are very carefree and dont get in other peoples business just stick to themselves.

  96. j-dizzle says:

    I think that this is a very confusing poem and im not sure whos who but i do like how he says everyones married to somones, I think that when he was writting this poem it was his idea a perfect town or maybe this reminds him of his home town it also says that noone loved anyone so maybe he was depresed or havin problems with the ladies but all in all i feel that this poem is very confusing and i dont understand a word of it and the more i try an read it the more it confuses me.

  97. Fritzle says:

    I’m guessing this poem is about a town in which individual people lived. No one paid any attention about anybody’s lives. Then towards the middle of the peom, a man fell in love with this woman.The man married his wife, enjoyed what was there was to enjoy. Later,I guess the man dies . Though noone dies, the woman still loved him, and she tried to cope with her grief.

  98. yasoda says:

    I really didn’t understand this poem at frist, but as i read on i got it.
    It is a really good poem it is about noone and noone is nobody. What happened to noone how nobody like kids, womens didn’t care about nobody. Days went by and still nobody cared about himsome kide did asked about him but forgot about it as they grew. How noone died alone nobody kissed him when he died. its really good. i like.

  99. Angela says:

    I think this poem is saying that everyone goes through the life cycles.. because it repeats the seasons…spring,summer,fall,winter many times. It says that we go through out lives no matter what happens but don’t take the time to care. I says that “no one” is loving of “anyone” while all the other people in town is going about their lives. Then in the end they both died and were buried next to each other.

  100. batman says:

    this poem is really good… um… actually im juss saying that because my teacher is making me do this.. this peom is confusing until you actually try to read it then it makes sense… wass up jordan

  101. Badboy says:

    I really didnt like this poem, I do wish i could find it fasinating and meaningful. I wasnt blown away at how cummings was able to fit all of that in a simple poem. I must say i agree with cummings, i think people should live how they want and be who they want, not lisen to the rest of the world. But be an individual. Now tell me if i am way off in this meaning. I have only read this poem a few times.

  102. Alex says:

    when i first read it i was like “how am i ever gonna be able to do an analysis for this poem?” then when i looked into it this poem really makes sense, because noone is someone.

  103. adam says:

    I read this poem in english class in grade 11. at first glance i thought it was just another case of that “break and entry” poetry. but wow, once it clicks…it’s like, (Bang!)

  104. Kayleigh says:

    I believe that ALIAPHT is an amazing, inspiring, thought-provoking poem. In my class, we are analyzing this poem, and I’ve noticed quite a few things. First, I believe the first three stanzas represent an earlier time in anyone’s life. The next three stanzas (I’m not sure if I spelled ‘stanzas’ correctly, sorry) represent the point in time where anyone and noone’s love was at its zenith, when they were young and content. The last three stanzas represent the death of anyone and finally noone, the conclusion–as happens with all great things–of their ‘fairytale’ lives together and only together. anyone and noone being buried side by side gives a sense of togethrness, and though they are no longer alive, they remain as one happy couple.

  105. Karalyn says:

    I must disagree that the “dong and ding” imply stupidity. Everytime I read this poem I am getting a more defined image of what cummings is protraying for the reader. There’s a cycle in the poem, a never-ending circle, if you will. The arrangement of the seasons and the “sun moon stars rain” follows a distinct circle and I believe “dong and ding” aide this technique, implying a clock, a set cycle.

    “Anyone” and “noone” represent people that don’t exist, while “Women and men” represent everyone trapped on a cycle that repeats itself, thus they “went their came” and “reaped their sowing.” Their lives are repetious.

  106. Karissa says:

    wow. i read this at first for a homework assignment and THANK YOU TO MY TEACHER for giving us that homework! i think this poem is magical, and every time i read it i feel very special. e. e. cummings you rock for writing this!! it makes me think (thinking is good) about lots of things and i hope i never ever forget about this poem!!!

  107. Jacquelyn says:

    I really enjoyed this poem, I find it fasinating and meaningful. I was blown away at how cummings was able to fit all of that in a simple poem. I must say i agree with cummings, i think people should live how they want and be who they want, not lisen to the rest of the world. But be an individual. Now tell me if i am way off in this meaning. I have only read this poem a few times. I first read this poem at a mensa convention because all my friends were saying it was borring (i was 12 years old at the time) now i am 13.

  108. Shelley Sargent says:

    I love this poem, it’s amazing, I can’t get over it. I can’t stop reading it. Easily my best assignment ever. In my humble opinion this poem is not solely about true love but about the will to live life differently and to have the courage to go against the grain (up so floating many bells down) and how it is those who are willing to be different and risk admiration that keep the world progressing (notice the seasons rotation halts in the final stanza after anyone is pronounced dead with noone buried at his side). I will not, however, argue against there fact that there is a story of love in the poem that seems to parrellel the aforementioned theme, and also seems to have some very vague comment to make on gender rolls. (I mean very very vague: notice that “noone” is female, and the statement, usually spoken as “men and women” is switched, and the only capitilized word in the poem is the word “Women”)

  109. Mercedes says:

    I really didn’t like or read poetry,.but today on a test we did it said to read this poem and answer some questions. Right when i read it i fell in love with it i read it three times over again then looked it up online. Iabsolutly love this poem!And i really want to read more poems by e.e cummings

  110. Barb says:

    Sorry Danielle, but Nicolette’s comment is certainly NOT stupid. And don’t you think it ironic that you make the comment about spelling in relation to a discussion about E.E. Cummings?
    If there is one thing about Cummings poetry that I have felt over the years, it is that he may have been angry about the way people treated each other and the torment they cause each other in the name of “patriotism” and “religion”, (that may have come with having been an ambulance driver and prisoner of war in WWI) but he was not unkind. Danielle, there is no room in a discussion about art for belittling comments. You owe Nicollette an apology.

  111. Danielle says:

    I think that Nicolette’s comment is stupid. How can you understand and appreciate a great poets work, if you can’t even spell right! And no, e.e. cummings poem isn’t mainly a love story. It is explaining to people how they should live thier lives. e.e. cummings believes that you should live your life in what ever way makes you happy, and never conform.

  112. Nicolette says:

    Im in 10th grade and my la teacher shared this poem with us. At first no one got it but soon it was easy to see this poem was a true love poem about anyone and noone. I jsut wanted to let the other people on this site know taht their comments helped em understand the poem and thank you because it such a graet one

  113. Tara says:

    Like nearly everyone here I love this poem. Thanks to other peoples comments on this site i have understood it more. I agree that he scarily captures life in this poem. the hopes , dreams , the everlasting quest to find true love. and how the world doesn’t stop for anyone, there isnt a ‘movie moment’ in anyone’s life, where time stands still. Its quite depressing to be honest, as it is a perfect example of how live is simply too short and unfair, for those who don’t find TRUE LOVE, which is the majority.

  114. Katherine says:

    This is my absolute favorite e.e. cummings poem. It tells about life and how you can choose to live it well (she laughed his joy, she cried his grief) or you can choose to live it badly (they reaped there sowing and went there came.) And then he insterts some magically stanzas in between, to give it something more than just ordinary life; love. (with up so floating many bells down) Also, he takes you through many seasons, as well as many years of love and toil. (sun moon stars and rain) The line that really stands out to me though is down they forgot as up they grew, because it states that as you grow up, you lose they knowledge of inocence and the knowledge of no knowledge or being safe in being naiive. Overall, this poem is just wonderful for being explanitory as well as mysterious. If you don’t understand this poem, you might be trying to hard. You have to let the poem wash over you and just take it as it is. There isn’t really a big hidden meaning. If you still don’t get it, this might help: anyone is a man, whom noone, a woman, loves. stars sun moon and rain signifes the turning of seasons and dongs and dings are stupid people who don’t look beyond there imediate lives. They don’t look for love or anything beyond there ordianary exsistance. Hope that helps. Enjoy.

  115. M.Snow says:

    It is amazing to me to read the comments of what appear to be “young” people commenting on and reading and enjoying a poem that was written almost 100 years ago! We read this in our lit class in the early ’60’s! It was a puzzle then and it still is, it appears. Maybe to have more insight or depth of perception into the poem, one could study ee cummings and his life. But maybe that would contribute more to the puzzle.:-)

  116. Steve Finley says:

    Cummings saw the atrocities of human nature and how men and women relate to each other in true love. With a conflict go on today 08.13.2005, it’s hard not to see that many of our men and women are giving there final kisses. Floating Bells down is the crowds that cheer for our fallen warriors and warrioresses, life is never fair. Only a few, normally not at the top of the ladder, know what isn’t like to lose a loved one, and the cost is very high. They can give lip service all they want, but innocent men and women are dying at this very moment and will be written on another wall in Washington D.C. only this time it won’t be the Asian war. We can learn allot from this poem, But only a few will know of the heartbreak of orphans, dead spouses and son’s and daughter’s lost over a belief. Believing in our country is first, believing in a lie is despicable.

  117. Lara says:

    I loved this poem from the first time that I ever read it. It shows that if teo people are really in love, then nothing else in the whole world matters. However we all to soon forget this feeling of innocence.

  118. Georgia says:

    I think the line, “(with up so floating many bells down)” has to do with the fact that the men and women are oblivious “Ding-Dongs”. anyone and noone are in love and it is literary tradition to put lovers up (be it in the clouds, on the moon, etc.) however, it is the bells (that go “ding dong”) that bring them down.

  119. Tee Bee says:

    I was thinking that the “(and only the snow can begin to explain how children are apt to forget to remember with up so floating many bells down)” line menat something about only time can tell (the whole seasonal references made multiple time w/ each of the seasons beign stages of life)…anyway only time can tell why children grow up to be these conformists as well and why they don’t consider the possibility of change in the monotony.
    …and maybe: I see motion in the bells line and I think it refers to the redundancy of the twon and how it goes back and forth like a bell over and over and over…

  120. Alex Rentz says:

    WOW! This poem is freakin’ awesome. It shows a very important thing that is going wrong in societies today: people aren’t being genuine and don’t appreciate the few who do. anyone and noone are the couple that is truly in love, and
    “they” are the followers or conformatists: they “went their came,” but that’s all they did. This is really a great poem. Maybe it’s hard to see at first, but you’ll see my point if you just know who anyone and noone are.

  121. Krishna says:

    This poem was weird. I did not get any part of this. Did you know that dong means your dick. Anyway, It might be a good poem and I am sure he does not mean that.

  122. Paul says:

    Jill, your comments were great. I think the most interesting and difficult line is “with up so floating many bells down”. My thoughts on this line: (1) it suggests the passage of time in 2 ways – the ups and downs, suggests a wave-like rhythm of time passing. Plus, more obviously, its a reference to the use of church bells to signal the hourly passage of time. (2) I think its also the process of conformity. Its originally introduced as a specific feature of this town, and, later, as a feature of what happens when time passes. Some children start out having no fear of expressing their individuality, “floating” “up” above the mundane world, but as time passes they are brought “down” to same conformist level as everyone else and “forget” their original individuality. The only optimistic note is that “many” of the children experience this process, but apparently not all.

  123. Jill says:

    Okay, anyone is a man, and noone is a woman–his one true love. Their neighbors (“both dong and ding”) are ding-dongs or idiots concerned with the artificial and mundane. They, the townspeople, are unconcerned with this couple who experiences things genuinely and happily (“he sang his didn’t he danced his did”, “she laughed his joy she cried his grief”). They are blind to love and live unhappily by being fake (“laughed their cryings and did their dance”, “said their nevers they slept their dream”). They aren’t genuine–they’re more concerned with what they “should” be doing and feeling. They never truly live and don’t take any risks. A little credit is given to clear-eyed children, who “guessed but only a few” about the genuine love between anyone and noone. But, as they got older, “down they forgot” how to see true love. (Breakfast Club quote: “when you grow up, your heart dies.”) But, even after death, this couples’ souls are intertwined–more than ever (“all by all and deep by deep and more by more they dream their sleep”) while the townsfolk continue being shallow, backwards, and insincere (“reaped their sowing and went their came”). The poem is a story about two people who demonstrate the individuality and rareness of true, undying love. Not unlike in the story “The Gift of the Magi”, their love is unspoiled, untarnished, and true. They celebrate each other’s accomplishments as their own and support each other in hard times. It’s hard to see at first, but each reading will continue to unravel the knots in its meaning. It’s the “Pretty Woman” of poetry.

  124. zach says:

    hey me again, i read this poem and a part of me got it and im still trying to convince the other side whats it about. anyways this was a great poem makes me wanna be gay and suck someone off, 🙂

  125. Nickii says:

    I’m fasinated by this guys poems! He is amazing!
    P.S. Dylan Partic Sullivan is HOT!

  126. Jared Bryer says:

    I always viewed noone and anyone as two lovers. I don’t know if the comment has been posted or not, but if u read the poem and replace noone and anyone with real names you will see my point.

  127. Carlos Malha says:

    Stephanie, thanks for pointing this out, it helped me read the poem again and maybe understand it a little better. I think in “with up so floating many bells down” the bells (or rather their ding-dongs) are the people who live in the town. You see, the last stanza starts with “Women and men(both dong and ding)”. Not sure I grasp the essence of the up and down contrast in the verse, though. Of course bells are up in towers and people are down on the streets and in the houses, but surely there’s some further meaning. Maybe it’s simply a bit of irony regarding people’s mundane pride in their “pretty how town”. All the people busy on the streets, all proud like floating bells – how ironical it is that all these bells are not up in towers but swarming down at ground level… Or maybe the contrast suggests how the high expectations upon marriage gradually deflate as times goes by and routine takes over. In other words, the bells float up in the sky to marry people who ascend to happiness and hope for a while [“someones married their everyones / laughed their cryings and did their dance / (sleep wake hope…”, in the fifth stanza], but these married people will eventually descend to everyday’s routine again [“… and then)they / said their nevers they slept their dream”]. Then, “(and only the snow can begin to explain / how children are apt to forget to remember / with up so floating many bells down)”. Surely the snow knows a little about falling from the sky to become a sheet of coldness down on earth. But while someones and everyones “slept their dream” in life, anyone and noone “dream their sleep” even beyond it.

  128. stephanie says:

    The idea of things going up and down is repeated in the poem about three times. What could this mean? I figured the stanza that says, “children guess (but only a few and down they forgot as up they grew” means that children, when they grow up and lose their innocence, go down to the level of being an anyone or a noone and conform to the rutine of life. But what about the other ups and downs? With the bells? Any ideas?

  129. Katie says:

    My favorite aspect of this poem is the way Cummings uses “circles” to give an overall background of the endless cycle of life that operates regardless of the individual. He of course uses the “sun moon stars rain” and “autumn winter spring summer” patterns that gradually rotate throughout the poem. But he also makes circles in other ways, using opposites like “stir” (move around) and “still” and “up” and “down.” And to clinch the whole circle concept, in the last stanza he repeats the first, indicating that the entire cycle begins again…and again…

  130. Shantice says:

    thinking of anyone, noone, everyone, and someone as individuals helps to clarify the poem, but the characteristics of all of these “individuals” apply to every person. all people at some point in their lives feel that, like anyone, they do not belong. to such “anyones” the rest of the world is just conforming “someones” and “everyones.” such “someones” marry the people who mean the world to them, their “everyones,” but to all others, that “everyone” is really a “noone.” Whew! pretty explicit, huh? that is the beauty of ee cummings.

  131. Brittany says:

    At first, it was hard for me to understand this poem. E.E. Cummings uses these amazing and beautiful words that just flow so well together and after i read it afain, it all sank in. I think it’s kind of depressing though, how time just goes on so rapidly but the world doesn’t really change because everyone is a noone to some people but a someone to others…this is hard to put into words lol.

  132. Hala says:

    when i read this poem the first time around, i merely thought of the sweetness life gives us, but as i read it multiple times after that, i really began to understand what message ee cummings was trying to deliver. i felt that the poem reflects society as encompassing people and sorting us into categories, not as individuals but as the social norm. i also felt that it represented the cycle of life in that everyone follows a certain routine, just like the seasons “spring summer autumn winter”. time passes and life continues and the process is endless, with the numerous persons who are born each day. thats just my viewpoint at least. 🙂

  133. Hala says:

    when i read this poem the first time around, i merely thought of the sweetness life gives us, but as i read it multiple times after that, i really began to understand what message ee cummings was trying to deliver. i felt that the poem reflects society as encompassing people and sorting us into categories, not as individuals but as the social norm. i also felt that it represented the cycle of life in that everyone follows a certain routine, just like the seasons “spring summer autumn winter”. time passes and life continues and the process is endless, with the numerous persons who are born each day. thats just my viewpoint at least. 🙂

  134. Jim says:

    can someone explain this peopme thourgholly and what does star rain sun moon stand for? and does sun moon star rain mean anything diffrent

  135. L says:

    Anyone and noone is what we all are. He’s pointing out that our lives have no meaning.

  136. matt whitaker says:

    e.e. cummings is amazing. the ways he writes is so unique. when i read this poem i didnt get much out of it. than i looked at it and i thnk i got it. as time passes life goes on and it happens to everyone which is why he didn’t give any names in this poem. life, when looked at it generally, is the same for everyone. children grow up, fall in love and die and it just happens.

    “Women and men(both dong and ding)
    summer autumn winter spring
    reaped thier sowing and went their came
    sun moon stars rain”

  137. Grace says:

    this is my favorite cummings poem! i have to do a report on him and this sis a big part of the presentation. like justin d. i was able to listen on tape.it is a very rewarding experience, especially since he is no longer living.

  138. Adrienne says:

    Awesome! The way this poem flows is creat. It is playful but very serious at the same time. I love it.

  139. Idamay Arsenault says:

    I came upon this poem in a literature class at Assumption College.I don’t claim to understand it, but I fell in love with its rhythmic flow. I just love reading it aloud when my husband’s not around.

    Idamay U.S.A.

  140. Patrick says:

    ‘anyone’ is getting older now. ‘anyone’ married his ‘noone’ many years ago. ‘noone’ is still ‘anyone’s’ one and only love. Our hands have grown toghther and need each others to hold on walks. Should ‘anyone’ pass before his ‘noone’ please read this so the ‘someones’ can tell their ‘everyones’ that true love, for those luck enough to find it, is forever.

  141. Caitlin says:

    This is a wonderful poem.. and if it had been written in a simple easy to read way.. it wouldn’t have the effect that it does. I read it for the first time in english, and i didn’t understand a word of it.. but then as our teacher explained it to us, it made so much sense.. i have to admit.. i almost cried! One thing i notcied after the class, when i came home and read it.. is that e.e. cummings writes his poetry in lower case.. but in this poem there are two instances were you capitalizes something.. he capatalizes the word Women two times.. i’m not really sure if it means anything.. but.. maybe, e-mail me if you have any ideas about it!

  142. Joshua says:

    I particularly enjoyed how Cummings put a word(s) into a syntax such that he gives an abstract word an actual definition. For example: “anyone” has its usual meaning of being a nobody in particular, while to his fellow townsmen he is just “anyone”, and to the reader “anyone” is a specific individual who is capable of love. (Robert E. Wagner) All in all, E. E. Cummings is a brilliant poet and writer.

  143. Amanda says:

    This poem is heartbreaking to me. Not for Anyone and Noone but for the Everyones and Someones. They rejected Anyone and he found happiness with Noone, they went through life and hide their pain when they “laughed their cryings”. To top that off they gave up all hope when they “said their nevers and slept their dream”. At least Noone and Anyone had a life together where liveing their dreams. I also loved the way that he showed time lapsing by naming seasons and emotion, it’s unique and brillant.

  144. Black Jack says:

    This poet is not well known in Italy. I appreciate his style and his way of see things, very near to me. In my opinion he did not receive in life the right level of fame for a poet of his talent. His poetry is blood and body and his best skill is to see over things to capture their real nature

  145. Teresa says:

    This is my favorite poem ever. It has so many levels of meaning. It reminds me of the picture of the young woman/old hag where you can see two very different pictures simultaneously. I first read this poem in a class in college, but as I have grown older and experienced things like loosing my anyone, this poem has shown deeper shades of meaning for me. I think I really enjoy this poem because it wasn’t easy to understand and took wrestling with, but when I took a rest (I’ll never be done) the word picture this poem brought was so beautiful.

  146. Rachel says:

    When I first read this poem I had no clue what it was talking about, but it struck something in me and I fell in love with the poem. I read it over and over agin but it wasen’t untill I read all the comments that it really made sence. I love cummings’ poems because they have dept and they don’t just spell it out for you. The way he captures life in this poem is so real it’s scarry.

  147. Justin D. says:

    i was fortunate enough to hear this poem read by him on tape not too long ago in my creative writing class and they way he reads it is like no other, he’s greatly inspired me and i totally disagree with this rick james fellow, you just need to open your eyes little one

  148. Liz Miller says:

    hey i dont really understand poems but i think one significant thing is that towards the end of the poem he capitalizes Women and he never capitalizes anything but im not sure what it mean he must have been writing about someone her loved or something

  149. Liz says:

    im doing a report on e.e. cummings and i find that it is very hard to understand him but i think it is just a matter of looking beyond the words meanings and thinking outside of the box, just like e.e. cummings was doing when he wrote this poem. So far this is my favorite poem of his and i think it is very fun to read. i have read it all to my friends already and they look at me like im crazy or something because they dont get it but hopefully i will understand better as i go thru my report. if anyone has any good information on E.E. cummings please email it to me
    thank you

  150. andrea says:

    i love this poem my english teacher and i have decided that we were goin to pick our favortive poems and bring them into class i chose this poem because it was one of the only poems that make me think about iti honestly love this poem and e.e cummings, cummings is very smart! thanx for the wonderful work

  151. mary says:

    I haven’t read this poem for forty years. I just re-read it, and it brought tears to my eyes– especially now that I’m no longer young, and I feel the same as I did then. It’s a beautiful, YES!!! to love. Follow your heart…

  152. Danielle P. says:

    I’m related to EE Cummings in some weird way. NO LIE!! I”m not like closely related but, somewhat. I”m like a great great niece, or something like that lol. I’m like related to the cummings in scotland.

  153. Rick Orr says:

    Kim, I’m kinda old (52) I felt like you when I was introduced to this poem in 7th or 8th grade, and I’m still fascinated by it. Take this poem at many different levels and return to it from time to time – always refreshing. My other favorites from long ago include Buffalo Bill’s and In Just-Spring. As I’ve aged, the love poems are my favorites, as well as his tributes to his parents and “above all things be glad and young”

  154. Scott Whitford says:

    this is clearly about the repetition of daily life. cummings creates a sense of monotony that is rather depressing. its a cycle of life that no one wants to become a part of and no one can break.

  155. Kim says:

    I am not too old so I’m not the greatest at understanding all the things that Cummings is trying to express, but of all the poems I’ve read so far, I like this one best. I understand it better than some of them, and I love the beauty Cummings can form with words alone!

  156. V ivek says:

    The last stanza of the poem is very interesting. Within four lines the poet summarises the human life in the world. Human beings come to the world, live for years witnessing all the seasons anyway they like and then inevitably die and go back to God. “went their came” to me means, return to the place of origin.

  157. Anthony says:

    I see now. I couldn’t see what he was talking about, but now…

  158. Pickle says:

    This is one of my favorite poems of all time. It’s gorgeous and it beautifully explains how everyone dreams when they’re young, but never works for their dreams. People go through life half-asleep going through the motions and then dying… it’s a wonderful poem.

  159. Jewls says:

    When I first read this poem I tought it was jibberish but after I read it a couple of times it became one of my favorite poems. You need to break the rules once and while and thats what he does and that makes the poem and peot even better.

  160. Rob says:

    E.E. Cummings was not only a poet, but also a painter with words. He doesn’t paint as most writers do by giving vivid details, but he does so by unique word order and gramatical usages. Just reading the line “spring summer autumn winter,” I pictured all the seasons passing rapidly, giving me a send of the passage of time.

  161. Cocotte says:

    Something everyone–especially English Lit majors–should know: English is an art. Don’t ruin it with rules. e.e. cummings is brilliant and avant-garde, and it’s not a matter of understanding word for word right away–it’s the feeling evoked in the reader after reading the poem. Seriously–scrap your rules. You’ll be amazed at how free you can be.

  162. Anonymous says:

    It is a very experimental poem. It might be difficult to read but it is humanly-possible to understand:)

  163. ashley says:

    I think it is a very expiramental poem. It might be dificult, but it is humanly-possible to understand.

  164. mümin says:

    ı am an english literature student and ı can hardly understand what he means in his poems because he uses a different style in ihs poems. when ı first read one of his poems ı thougt that Cummings doesnt know English because he he didnt obey the grammatical rules and use grammatical rules in a different style.

  165. Amanda says:

    I thought it was good. I have to write a paper on him in English class but the way he writes really makes you think about what he’s trying to say.

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