here is little Effie’s head
whose brains are made of gingerbread
when judgment day comes
God will find six crumbs

stooping by the coffinlid
waiting for something to rise
as the other somethings did-
you imagine his surprise

bellowing through the general noise
Where is Effie who was dead?
-to God in a tiny voice,
i am may the first crumb said

whereupon its fellow five
crumbs chuckled as if they were alive
and number two took up the song
might i’m called and did no wrong

cried the third crumb, i am should
and this is my little sister could
with our big brother who is would
don’t punish us for we were good;

and the last crumb with some shame
whispered unto God, my name
is must and with the others i’ve
been Effie who isn’t alive

just imagine it I say
God amid a monstrous din
watch your step and follow me
stooping by Effie’s little, in

(want a match or can you see?)
which the six subjective crumbs
twitch like mutilated thumbs;
picture His peering biggest whey

coloured face on which a frown
puzzles, but I know the way-
(nervously Whose eyes approve
the blessed while His ears are crammed

with the strenuous music of
the innumerable capering damned)
-staring wildly up and down
the here we are now judgment day

cross the threshold have no dread
lift the sheet back in this way
here is little Effie’s head
whose brains are made of gingerbread

Analysis, meaning and summary of e.e. cummings's poem here is little Effie’s head


  1. Shane says:

    Did an analysis of this poem in college and have loved it since (30 years later)

  2. Mark Carpenter says:

    I really think this poem needs to be read, and studied, and memorized by every aspiring priest, pastor, minister and rabbi in every accredited seminary.

    This poem encapsulates the human condition; and how most of us fritter away our entire lives on useless, petty, subjective, subjunctive *stuff* which, by and large, REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

  3. Sheila says:

    Why is there so much focus on Cummings’ use of capitalization, rather than the meaning behind his words? I stumbled onto this site expecting intelligent conversation and analysis. Ironically, it appears that I have found the very heads whose brains are made of gingerbread that Cummings was denouncing.

  4. donna bishop says:

    i too love this poem and the premise is so profound may might should could would must) have i done everything i must? it is an eternal question…..
    i also have several of cummings books, and he does use capital letters quite frequently, not so much in the way we have learned grammar, but subtly, and in the same way he uses punctuation, more to call attention to his thoughts and ours

  5. adelia says:

    I have fallen “in love” with this poem. Thank you Lit. teacher.

  6. c reid says:

    cummings did in fact use capitalization quite (well, poetically) throughout his poetry. Pat Soifer, needs to read some cummings, then edit himself. 🙂

  7. Pat Soifer says:

    e.e. cummings NEVER used capital letters in his poems. Not for effie or himself, Whoever put this version of cummings’ poem up knows little about cummings. This editor needs editing.

  8. Lex P says:

    At least the pieces are all together

  9. jan tatarian says:

    i like the way dr.wayne dyer explains the may , could should and etc. of the poem in his book ;wisdom of the ages.’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by e.e. cummings better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.