may i feel said he
(i’ll squeal said she
just once said he)
it’s fun said she

(may i touch said he
how much said she
a lot said he)
why not said she

(let’s go said he
not too far said she
what’s too far said he
where you are said she)

may i stay said he
(which way said she
like this said he
if you kiss said she

may i move said he
is it love said she)
if you’re willing said he
(but you’re killing said she

but it’s life said he
but your wife said she
now said he)
ow said she

(tiptop said he
don’t stop said she
oh no said he)
go slow said she

(cccome?said he
ummm said she)
you’re divine!said he
(you are Mine said she)

Analysis, meaning and summary of the poem by

49 Comments

  1. Natascha says:

    This poem is definitively not about rape, read it about six times and then you will see that this poem is about a married man that is having an affair, the poem is jumping between their emotions and their current physical state which is having sex, then he cums inside of her and she claims that he is now his because she is going to be the mother of his unborn child.

  2. Rosie says:

    You guys are being stupid, it is obviously not about rape so gtfo please.
    It is a very sweet poem about the awkwardness of new love but the beauty and passion of it. It is a lovely and sweet poem.

  3. jay says:

    the poem implies different ideas and interpretation, wherein the poem tells a story about the experience of the author(E.E Cummings).

  4. joshua levy says:

    I don’t believe this poem about rape..(You are mine said she) after he climaxes….the poem is nothing more than an erotic conquest!

  5. faith says:

    The fact that people are known for saying “don’t stop” during sex…. it’s obvious that this isn’t about rape. and the fact that cummings has had numerous affairs and marriages, it’s also pretty obvious that this could be about one of his affairs.

    I read this poem for the first time in my english class, and i didn’t understand a bit of it. Then i actually read it, it’s amazing how cummings can make you feel while reading these short 4 line, 8 stanzas. it makes you look at things so much differently.

  6. Broy says:

    this poem made me so hot. i read it to my main squeeze and he couldn’t get enough of me after that. we had a HAWT sack session woooooooo! me lovey this poem

  7. Billy says:

    The rythym of this poem is amazing and truely captures the climatic feelings, at least thats what I think. Im not big on adultery, but such is life.

  8. Shirlei says:

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  9. Shirlei says:

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  10. rebecca stevenson says:

    hahahahaha….i love this poem!! like to the max.

    duhh!! get it strait….this poem rox my sox!!

  11. cry baby says:

    it is the most awsomely awsome poem i’ve read all year! oh, yeah it’s hot.

  12. AJ says:

    i love this poem… cummings is an amazing writer

  13. Cherish says:

    I don’t understand all of Cummings writing, but this piece speaks to me because it is so real. It is a scene that has been played out for generations and generations and I still don’t think that it has all of the recognition it deserves.

  14. zoroaster says:

    This poem rocks. It got me laid with four different women in three different decades. I owe cummings a bottle of the finest single malt scotch.

  15. maya says:

    omg this poem is to sexual

  16. Melissa says:

    thsi poem has imspired me so much. throughout my life, i realised that there are many things due to this poem. you’ve completely inspired me. thank you

  17. susan says:

    Just found this website…love it. This poem is perfection. As a matter of fact, I plan on writing it in a card for someone I hope will “get it”.

  18. Rajni says:

    A beauty! cummings is telling us that we are always constantly being exposed to changes therefore nothing remains static or conventional. This is evident through his theme and style of writing. He talks about an issue that was a taboo(sex) some centuries ago and he uses an unconventional style of writing(lower case). Our thinking has been a result of indoctrination in the sense that we believed what our parents and grandparents said about there being a ‘universal standard’for everything. Even to this day, sex is an ‘untalked’ issue in a lot of counties despite the fact it is so natural and real. In a similar manner, as little kids we were led to believe that capitalisation was necessary to begin sentences and so forth. Through this poem we are compelled to question our beliefs and why we must we adhere to ‘universal standards’ if there aren’t justifications for them.

  19. Jo says:

    I visited a website in a search for information on Cummings which I think may interest people. (The address is, http://www.harvardmagazine.com/on-line/030585.html) In light of previous postings, and various comments on the ‘naked innocence’ of the poem (to quote Rob), I was interested to read this article by Adam Kirsch:

    “Cummings […] was part of the generation that returned from World War One ready to demolish Victorian illusions and experiment with all kinds of liberation, sexual and social as well as literary.”

    I think this liberation is mirrored in Cummings’s complete disregard for punctuation, in that the poem takes on a sense of fluidity and seems to breakdown formal and old-fashioned views to sex. I’m intrigued however, as to why Cummings chose such a conventional format of regular four-line stanzas in ‘may i feel said he’ when his work is mostly recognised by its more erratic visual form. Is this possibly because he’s describing an act that IS completely conventional (rather than unconventional / strange) and, as I mentioned before, fluid? Or could it be that the poem is meant to be comic; thus the jaunty AB rhyme scheme?

    I have a theory that everything Cummings has enclosed in brackets is actually a thought, rather than something the characters say out-loud. Ideas on this: anyone…?

    Lastly, I particularly love the line, ‘but it’s life said he’, which for me encapsulates the simplistic beauty of the poem; the idea that sex is beautiful, natural, and that it’s a reason for living. Cummings himself apparently went through a number of marriages and affairs, which would seem to explain his enthusiasm for expressing his joy of physical love!

  20. Rob says:

    cummings has long been my favorite American poet. I read this for the first time when I was about 17 – and read it over an over, totally turned on by its exquisite sensuality. At 57, I am still turned on by the work, this time by its insight, purity and naked innocence.

  21. William Chase says:

    Beautiful economy of words and simplicity of expression to create vivid, though complex, identification with poet’s romantic playfulness.

  22. S.Turchet says:

    I teach this in senior English classes – it is compressed language at cummings non-punctuated best! It sums up male-female relationships, needs and wants so well –especially at the adolescent stage ( which many never outgrow). It teaches us how to read a poem — and can be dramatized easily. May it inspire more poetry. ST

  23. Matt says:

    This poem is among my favorits from cumming.
    David dont ever talk again please

  24. sam says:

    nice *lol*

  25. Sofi says:

    Does anyone know when (what year) Cummings wrote this wonderful poem?

  26. stem says:

    I have no words to express about this poem. It is as engimatic as that ?

  27. kelly says:

    when i read this poem my first thought agreed with many of these comments- i thought that she was not as experienced as he was and things were rushed, perhaps there was an affair. but as i read more into it, i began to visualize something completely different. as a member of the female species, i can honestly say that girls are sinical (forgive spelling) and should not always be portrayed as perfect angels. i think in this poem she is playing the innocent card- making him think he is in control, when in the end she makes the comment “you are Mine” i think the capitalization signifies that she was in control the whole time and that, despite what other writers say, girls are not always as sweet and innocent as we think.

  28. Pistolas says:

    This is a great poem, full of different tidbits that allow many different translations. Heres what I got (please understand that I am not trying to brag on myself or anything of the sort). Based on my own sexual experiences I believe that what he write in parenthesis is said in a whisper or a lower, more passionate tone. What is not is said in a normal voice, with the exception of the next to last line (it has an exclamation). I think that possibly “he” is quite a bit older than “she”. Based on the affair thing and also the difference in language that they use. “He” seems more confident and knows how to seduce her, while she is shy and it is probably her first time.

  29. Beth says:

    I think this poem was written very well. i love his use of words and how you cant help but start out reading it slow and then you get faster and faster as the heat builds up. i just wish i knew what his inspiration was for this particular one. i notice that “she” mentions a wife and that he is “killing” could this be an affair?

  30. Preia says:

    Why such language in the comments, people? 🙁
    Anyway, I personally love this poem. I think it can be interpreted as two lovers trying to communicate and then, it could also be two naive and inexperienced teenagers- a boyfriend pushing a girlfriend maybe. XD Personally, I love it just because it has a clear message that can still be interpreted differently, depending on the reader. 🙂

  31. Jim says:

    I note with interest that several comments focus on the poem bringing out differences between how men and women perceive things. For me, this poem is more about how the roles men and women play mesh erotically. There is a momentum that builds as the dance progresses. The early exchanges in which “he” asks ever so politely give way near the end to his weilding a more forceful tone. Her caution gives way to fanning the flames of intimacy. We are swept away along with these two lovers, and share their tension, fun and joy because it works so well–both what they’re feeling for each other, and of course, the telling of it. It’s one of my favorites.

  32. amana says:

    i love it, its bare and real, too many poets beat around the bush. Revealing your thoughts without fear is a courageous poet.

  33. Kayli says:

    absolutely loved it. very witty and clever, made me smile with its playful ( not disgusting) use of sexual language.

  34. Amandat kissnhug says:

    This poem rules out of a whole semester of boring poems from the 2o th century , thank god one woke me up… all u idiots that disagree kno what u can do

  35. kelli says:

    Okayyyyyyyy. Comments and questions. A) it’s Pe D aphile, you brainiac, David Young. B) is the offensive thing about this poem that it takes place between a man and a woman (oh ew) and you are a homosexual? C) is David Young in the third grade? I was perpelexed by his comments. David, if you want attention, at least try and be smart about it, so people just don’t roll their eyes and laugh at you.

  36. Madison says:

    I like this poem, mainly because it is entertaining and has some sort of meaning. E.E Cummings is a wonderful poet and I am a fan of his work.

  37. Kristy says:

    of course people who say the poem is sick and preverted than oviously your sick and preverted if u see it that way..poetry has many meanings to it..i think that all e.e. cummings poetry is beautiful dispite tha fact if it sexual content..its poetry…Image…

  38. Leah says:

    I’m sorry David, but i do have to question your maturity. Throwing around malicious labels like ‘fag’ and ‘petafile’ isn’t going to make people respect you or what you have to say about the poem or poet. Everyone who puts comments on this page has the same rights as you to express their own opinions, so why don’t you try to get past that and keep your cynical (look it up in a dictionary) comments to yourself? The purpose for adding comments is for people to share their thoughts about the poem, not about the people who put their ideas on this page. Think about it…

  39. Hannah says:

    Just a thought, anyone who finds this poem perverted probably needs to mature a bit before further attempting to interperate poetry. The poem expresses very well the difference between the thoughts of a man and a woman on the same subject.. very well written, I love it.

  40. Jackie says:

    This is a great poem, one of my favorites. Whoever thinks this poem is perverted should have their head checked. People didn’t think they way we do now. It’s a good tease that’s all. And Cummings is one of the greatest. Peole say his work isn’t poetry well, lets see you guys create a style more twisted and unique then his.

  41. arwen says:

    cummings has a right to express himself anyway that he wants. its not like this poem is particulary dirty it is just expresses different points of view. david young i think you are really the one who is insecure about his sexuality not whitney. its amazing how close minded people are when it comes to anything different or new. people have been writing about sex for many years. how is this poem any different from those harlequin romance books? if anything you should be getting angry at those novels not this poem.

  42. David Young says:

    Shut up Whitney you little fag. Just cause your insecure with your sexuality doesn’t mean you should take it out on others you little queer. By the way are you seeing anyone. 😉

  43. Whitney says:

    You people who think this peom is “perverted and sick” are obviously insanely deprived. There are far more things that are more sick than this, go bitch about that instead of a poem with some significance.

  44. Joe says:

    I don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s a funny poem but at the same time shows the difference in the mindset between a man and a woman. You say cummings sucks? You are an idiot

  45. seamore says:

    i like this poem because it is funny, and it rhymes. it kicks ass dude!!!

  46. poolrat says:

    there always seems to be something subtle expressed in this poem. it always feels like you’ve missed something, or something has gone wrong in the poem and you can’t quite put your finger on it. i love it, and my teacher was the one to show me it!

  47. Patricia says:

    This is my favorite e.e. cummings poem. He so aptly describes the different ways men and women can interput the same thing. This poem always makes me grin.

  48. Annie says:

    I love this poem it is my favorite. I think i love it more because this poem got me in trouble in high school. Love it
    ~Annie

  49. Clancy says:

    this poem is always funny it is pretty evil also
    your tops e.e.

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