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 e.e. cummings's poem may i feel said he


  1. rebecca stevenson says:

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

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

  2. cry baby says:

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

  3. AJ says:

    i love this poem… cummings is an amazing writer

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. maya says:

    omg this poem is to sexual

  7. 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

  8. 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”.

  9. 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.

  10. Jo says:

    I visited a website in a search for information on Cummings which I think may interest people. (The address is, 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!

  11. 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.

  12. William Chase says:

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

  13. 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

  14. Matt says:

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

  15. sam says:

    nice *lol*

  16. Sofi says:

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

  17. stem says:

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

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.