l(a

le
af

fa
ll
s)

one
l
iness

(1958)

Analysis, meaning and summary of e.e. cummings's poem l(a

20 Comments

  1. chris dometh says:

    i beleive it is about how a leaf falls is like lonilesnees

  2. Glen says:

    goldfern – AUTO

    AUTO
    BIO
    GRAPHIC
    ALLY

    (POE(T)RY’S)

    UNI
    QUE

    PATH
    OSE

    SO
    LO

    & YET SO

    HI!

    HE REACHES

    me

  3. zach says:

    oneliness is split off of loneliness, and further split it’s
    “one
    liness”
    one—one leaf falling. Get it?

  4. Jesse says:

    I believe that the poem is suposed to say a leaf falls in loneliness because its by its self and alone instead of clumped together on top of the tree

    the words a leaf falls is inside the word loneliness if you straiten it out

    l(a leaf falls)oneliness

  5. Jane says:

    My english class read and evaluated this poem. I really enjoy Cummings’ “off the wall” way of writting. I did enjoy this poem. My thesis paper for English will be on E.E. Cummings.

  6. Jane says:

    We had to read this poem in class by E.E. Cummings. The class then evaluated it. My class has to do a thesis paper on a famous poet, we have to prove why they did what they did, amoung other things… I enjoy his “off the wall” writting. I have some grest information on him.

  7. Daniele says:

    The poem by E.E. Cummings is a “visual poem”. Our teacher told us that if you look at the hole poem and you regarde only the letters in total you can see that the structure of the letters is like a the movement of a leaf falling down of a tree. It is hardly to explain, but there is a bit of truth in it…

  8. carlie zervan says:

    I think that this poem is about being the first one to break away from everything else (feeling how lonley it is to be the first leaf falling from the tree)

  9. Timothy says:

    I’m going to have to go with the assumption that E.E. Cummings was a homosexual….and at the time of writing this poem, he may have been going through a dry spell (a.k.a. no cummings). No pun intended.

  10. steph says:

    i believe that this poem is about a leaf falling. the words in parenthases read ” a leaf falls” the letters on the outside read “loneliness” i believe the shape is just there to form a “falling” pattern to express the thoughts of this poem.

  11. Morgan says:

    This guy writes the most illegible drivel I’ve ever read. Seriously, how in the hell is he considered a poet? 5 year olds put this guy to shame as far as sentence structure is concerned. God forbid he write sentences like everone else. I guess stroke patients can’t be expected to function normally. And don’t respond to this comment and tell me he was a great poet and I can’t comprehend the beauty of his poetry.

  12. Swane Dawg says:

    I really enjoy Boldizsár’s comment below. I believe what he wrote follows my thoughts. thanks. i love jon angot

  13. kerry says:

    This is a concrete poem–one in which the shape of the words on the page must be considered. The poem is shaped like the numeral one. Obviously the digit 1, the word one and the concept of “iness”–state of being first person singular–are involved. The opening parenthesis is a leaf, which turns (as represented by the closing parenthesis) as the leaf falls with the downward movement of the skinny poem. The opening line l(a is the French feminine singular definite article (with a leaf wedged in it); “le” is the masculine singular definite article.To get superingenious: “af” and “fa” are like that turning falling leaf and reinforce the idea of singularity since “fa” is a single noted of Guido’s scale. “11” looks like eleven and seems to blow apart the idea of singularity–until one thinks of the etymology or “eleven”: one that is left over in our normal decimal grouping of ten. What could be moore lonely? That “s” is the same leaf as the earlier ( and the ), but it somehow got bent in its descent.

  14. Ashley Dean says:

    Though there seems to be a lot of controversy about the first character, I believe that it is an “l” (which to be meant as a lower case L). The characters outside of the parenthesis would then sum to “loneliness” which is represented by a leaf falling, apart from others, into the state of being a single entity; alone. The fact that the “l” does also resemble a “1” (that is, a single unit numeral), it could be interpreted as one’s loneliness.

  15. Boldizsár says:

    Though I know this will cruelly dispel some fancy illusions I must insist that – given the usual orthography of cummings’s poetry – the first letter is completely clear; it cannot be but an “l” (that is, a lowercase “L”). cummings never writes the personal pronoun “I” in capital letter, though that would obviously be the orthodox spelling.

    The first character’s “l”-ness 🙂 is also confirmed internally by the text itself: the letters outside the parentheses add up to “loneliness”. Paradoxically, though, the interpretations you have been mentioned above (below? – esp. yan’s and Jane’s) are still valid but not because the alleged ambiguity of the first character – which is, woe betide! not ambiguous at all – but because of the separation of “loneliness” into disparate units such as “one”, “i” or “iness” (interpretable as I-ness, indeed).

    To me, the conciseness and melancholy beauty of this poem (behind which I still cannot help but feel cummings’s tongue-in-cheek half-smile) evoke the innermost paradoxes of Far-Eastern haikus.

  16. liana pehrsson-berindei says:

    e.e. cummings is a romantic at heart. He uses very often romantic imagery and symbolism. Here is the leaf that symbolizes life, and death when it is floating down.

    It reminds me of Rielkes “But there is one who gently keeps this fall into his hand”

    It is graphic poem and an open one.
    If we interpret the opening either as “The one” or as “I”, then the poem is about the unique and personal experience of life and death : oneliness/loneliness.

  17. psyopsyche says:

    I think it’s about the lonliness of separation, possibly even death. When a leaf falls from a tree, it makes its solitary journey alone, away from all friends and family (supposing he’s friends with other leaves, hehe..). Ultimately, it is the end of life as he knew it… The lonliness of it all…?

  18. Jane says:

    e.e. cummings is rivaled only by T.S. Eliot as my favorite poet. This, in my opinion, is the most perfect of his poems. All of the elements of form support one thesis. The first line, “1(a” consists of two expressions of singularity (the numeral one and the letter a). Inside the parentheses is a picture of loneliness–“a leaf falls”. Outside the parentheses: “1” (numeral 1), “one”, “1”, “iness” (lower case “I” ness). As laid out on the page, the text can be seen as the path of a leaf as it falls. It can also be seen as a picture of a tree trunk. Or, and I like this one best, all of the individual characters in the poem combine to make a picture of the numeral 1—the all in one. The entire poem is a perfect statement of solitude and personal insignificance, but collective oneness.
    Jane

  19. Aiden says:

    A poem about a leaf and the way it falls

  20. yan says:

    oh, cummings.. his representational quality is amazing. this poem represents a solitary leaf falling. The bottom is the longest because its the leaf completely flat on the ground. Also, although the first letter is an “L”, it looks like a #1… this is to show that when your #1 and your at the top, its lonely… hmm, i guess thats about it

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