)when what hugs stopping earth than silent is… (16)

)when what hugs stopping earth than silent is
more silent than more than much more is or
total sun oceaning than any this
tear jumping from each most least eye of star

and without was if minus and shall be
immeasurable happenless unnow
shuts more than open could that every tree
or than all life more death begins to grow

end’s ending then these dolls of joy and grief
these recent memories of future dream
these perhaps who have lost their shadows if
which did not do the losing spectres mime

until out of merely not nothing comes
only one snowflake(and we speak our names

Analysis, meaning and summary of e.e. cummings's poem )when what hugs stopping earth than silent is… (16)


  1. jalisa mizell says:

    i didnt understand that poem but im only 14 years old

  2. Stephanie says:

    Though I don’t think this poem was meant as a religious commentary either, it should be noted that Cummings was in fact very religious. His statement “And death i think is no parenthesis,” in the context of the poem it is taken from, is, I think, simply a comment that one should live life to the fullest and focus on feeling instead of the strict rules of humanity because death is inevitable. It should not be taken as evidence that Cummings does not believe in an afterlife.

  3. Brian Haley says:

    The poet is expressing the cycle of life and death, but he is not merely reporting. There is an undercurrent of pathos that speaks to a forgetfulness of the unity of all. The light of Life, which imbues All — “the total sun oceaning” — is “more silent… than much more is.” Is there a deeper Silence than this?! And if this immense silent ‘void’ — the “immeasurable happenless unnow” — was to “shut more than open,” death would prevail over Life. The poet is merely pondering — what if…?

    And yet he continues: Dolls are playthings, therefore, “joy and grief” are the mere games of shadowy entities who don’t know who or what they really are (what is substance, what is shadow?). Until, out of the void of nothingness (which is “merely not nothing”) shines the Oneness of Life — the One snowflake: i.e., the prototypical Form of all subsequent expressions of Life. And the manifest and diverse expressions (“we speak our names”), which are rooted in the unity of the One, begin the cycle once again — name and form are born. And this happens in the eternal Now — gone are “memories of future” events. The uniqueness of the One is expressed in the many in an endless cycle (“end of endings”), beyond time and space, eternally.

  4. Jefferson Floyd says:

    “Death i think is not a paranthesis”
    -E.E. Cummings
    That statement illustrates his hedonistic beliefs on life. Lacking a belief in an afterlife, evident in this statement, it is a logical conclusion to doubt he had any religious beliefs- especially on the topis concerning this poem.

  5. Pehrie says:

    i don’t think it is religious either, i think it says that when all the love in the world is gone, and nobody cares about eachother anymore, then the world will fall to ruin. i think that when he says “these who perhaps have lost their shadows” he means that our forebearers didn’t know the consequences of their actions. and when he says “out of merely not nothing comes only one snowflake (and we speak our names” he means that our generation can salvage the world if we can find one good leader. and by putting the end parenthesis at the beginning of the poem he shows that this cycle of evil turning into good is a never ending cycle.

  6. Lane says:

    I don’t think this poem necessarily has a religious meaning. It seems more like a warning about a more industrialized world that breeds false feelings. I think “dolls of joy and grief” represent the fake attitudes most people feel towards a world that they do not respect. People feel a lot more confused and disjointed in today’s society which encourages people to lose touch with each other and nature (“these perhaps who have lost their shadows”) and scorns those who succeed in doing so. I suppose this could extend to a spiritual connection as well, and that the lack of one is a sign of the degredation of our society.

  7. Charlene says:

    This poem was very difficult for me to understand at first, but then once i started to realize certain parts a lot of it came together. I saw as I was going through this poem with my 11th grade English teacher that no one had posted any comments about this poem and i was glad that i could be the first. This poem is about, to me, Judgement day and Armageddon. In the last line of the poem it speaks of only one snowflake. In real life every snowflake is different and in this poem i believe that this snowflake is a representation for God. I believe that God took the form of a snowflake in this poem because of the background of e.e.cummings. He grew up with his father being a unitarian miniester, and himself growing up Unitarian. This also gave the poem such a religious feel. After that my teacher and i started analyzing it more and we got the sense that it was about Judgement day, becuase up until the last line it is silent, until they speak their names after the snowflake comes down. Another clue that really secured that it was about Judgement day and Armagedeon is that fact about the signifance of 16, which is at the end of the title of the poem. In the Book of Revelations chapter 16 it talks about The Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath. Each Angel is given a bowl and destroys part of the world. But then in verse 16 of chapter 16 it states “Then they gathered the Kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. So that is basically what the poem is about, and if you guys think that you have any other good insight feel free to email me. Thanks.

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