may my heart always be open to little… (19)

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old
may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young
and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

Analysis, meaning and summary of e.e. cummings's poem may my heart always be open to little… (19)


  1. lisa de stefani says:

    davvero, anche per me, una delle mie poesie gioia di viveree l’amore per la vita scorrono lievi nel sangue ogni volta che la leggo
    bravissimo cummings!

  2. Greg says:

    I first heard this poem while viewing the movie “In Her Shoes” WOW! how it touched my heart, my soul. I went to my computer and printed the poem returned to the room where I told my partner to close his eyes! I read the peom hoping to touch his heart, what success!
    Try it for yourself “Feel the love”

  3. sky says:

    cummings is my absolute favorite of all time, and this poem especially gets me.

    when he speaks of forever being open to little birds, he is synecdochically referring to every precious, minute treasures of life most people fail to hear or see. for these, he says, are the secrets of living.

    may his heart always be supple and bold enough to absorb and appreciate them and whatever findings spawn from that perception– and even if it’s Sunday may he be wrong because whenever men truly explore and experiment, it is inevitable that he may chance upon benign sin — again, a mark of living.

    and you know what, the songs of little birds and those little birds themselves truly are the secrets of living.. if absorbed in the right mindset, when you stare at those little guys and watch them hop around so naively, so inquisitively — if you watch them c0ck their little heads as they ask you who YOU are, and allow their healing song to infuse the encounter…you can find a clarity and a depth capable of illuminating your every emotion and breath.

    obviously brilliant..i don’t think i need to say it.

  4. adrienne says:

    i was graduating with a Master’s in Psych, ready to take on the masses with neuroses. this poem was my graduate speech; with no other comments from me. plain and simple. the head of Seattle’s Opera Society was there that day. he approached me later and demanded i not waste my talents for speaking from the heart sitting in an armchair. was it that, or e.e.cummings himself that led me to become an advocate for the mentally ill, and later an advocate for the sick and disabled? these are the influences that make a culture Know itself; if it chooses to pay attention. check out musicians from around the world like this the myspace musical group, eecummingsmusicproject,
    making music to e.e.cummings works!!! like beat poet Lew Welch said decades later, “it goes on growing whether you look at it or not”!!!! e.e.cummings was ahead of his time in both his style and method, but not his message. he wouldn’t have given it to us if we hadn’t been ready to hear it.

    • Celia says:

      When I retired from my work training teachers at Kingston University I read this poem at the event rather than making a meaningless speech of my own. I loved it then and still do.

  5. Jill says:

    It’s not necessarily an attack on religious beliefs. i think he’s just saying that you need to be spontaneous and carefree and be willing to “sin” every once in a while to get the most out of life.

    i think he’s saying that it’s better to be naive–like birds–than to have worldly knowledge, because people who have knowledge are bitter and pessimistic and are never spontaneous because they’re too afraid of the consequences. naive people fall in love, and they make fools of themselves doing it…but at least they’re in love.

  6. Laulena says:

    A beautiful poem. His ability to twist words as though they were clay…amazing.

    However, I don’t believe that it’s an attack on Christianity or religious leaders, by any means.

  7. Jerome says:

    So I’m on 3mg’s of DOC and I search for basically whatever comes into my mind on google, and first thing pops up this poem, and of course its absolutely perfect.

  8. Tampa Bay John says:

    “… and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong” is such a gentle, subtle and irresistable attack on our religious leaders who believe they have a monopoly on the way, the truth and the light, especially when they preach on any Sunday morning. Or am I wrong? Reminds me of Breugel’s painting “The Blind Leading the Blind” when his Germany was ravaged by conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants.

  9. Barbara says:

    sehr hubsch!

    Cummings is beyond a doubt my favorite poet, and this poem in particular has always sent chills up my spine — it’s beauty is that powerful!

  10. Gerhard Lang says:

    sheer beauty needs no comment. is that the reason nobody comments this poem? I wonder. However, I would like to enter a translation into German, because all translations I have read so far seemed to be wrong.

    Möge mein Herz stets offen sein den kleinen
    Vögeln die das Geheimnis zu Leben sind
    wasimmer sie singen ist besser als das Wissen
    und sollten Männer sie nicht hören sind Männer alt

    möge mein Denken umherstreunen hungrig
    und furchtlos und durstig und schmiegsam
    und sei es auch Sonntag möge ich mich irren
    denn wannimmer Männer recht haben sind sie nicht jung

    und möge ich selber Nichtstun das nützt
    und dich selbst je mehr als wahrhaft lieben
    nie gab´s einen solchen Narr dem es misslang
    allen Himmel über sich zu ziehen mit einem Lächeln

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