1(a… (a leaf falls on loneliness)

1(a

le
af
fa
ll

s)
one
l

iness

Analysis, meaning and summary of e.e. cummings's poem 1(a… (a leaf falls on loneliness)

80 Comments

  1. Phillip says:

    One is the loneliest number.

  2. Greg says:

    Listen Up! What is all the fuss? This is what’s wrong with the world today! I think the poem was is for all to enjoy, not to cause a fight! Again this is what’s wrong with the world today we always have to fight over everything learn to “AGREE TO DISAGREE” Hope someone learned something today!

  3. Sam D. says:

    Never so loudly has a leaf fallen.

  4. Stephanie says:

    This is a response to rr. In all seriousness, thank you for your interpretation of the poem. It is refreshing to find such a well-thought out and backed-up interpretation. I am also glad that you recognize that it is simply your interpretation and nothing more, as of course you know that none of us are E. E. Cummings and thus that none of us can, according to you, profess that we have the “correct” interpretation. However, I am intrigued by the fact that you feel the need to qualify your interpretation by telling us that you have a Harvard education, as if it makes your interpretation more valid than others’. I think, and this is simply an opinion, albeit one shared by many critics of art, that the only thing that makes one interpretation more valid than another is how well it is backed up by the text. This does, in fact, as I have said, make yours an extremely good interpretation, but has nothing to do with Harvard. Also, it surprises me that someone as educated as yourself (though perhaps the tinge of self-centeredness should have tipped me off) would say “That is much of what cummings is trying to say” as if you have any idea what Cummings intended. In fact, your comment that the only meaning of a poem is what the author intended renders all of what we say useless. Sure, your interpretation is what Cummings might have intended to say, but he also might have intended the poem as a simple statement that a leaf is falling and looks lonely, nothing more. We, the audience, can never know as we are not E. E. Cummings. If meaning stems solely from the author, there is no use in attempting to interpret a poem. As I have said, I think that a poem’s meaning should be based on what the audience can back up using the poem itself, not on what we think an author may or may not have meant.

    In ending, two things. First, you should know, before styling your name after an author, that Cummings himself wrote his name with capital letters and correct punctuation. Second, I dearly hope that both of your comments were meant not as condescension but as humor. I feel that this is a reasonable hope, as you seem to have jokingly copied Cummings’ name and educational background. Remember, though, that sarcasm is difficult to pick up in text form. You have clearly offended several people and should be careful next time to make your jokes more apparent. Sarcasm is funnier if the reader can tell that it’s there. If you truly mean what you say, I am sorry. I am sure you will interpret that as an apology for something I have done or said. Feel free to do so, but know that, as I am the author, your interpretation will be completely wrong.

    Lastly, my own thoughts on the poem. I think the poem is actually correctly written with an l (letter) not a 1 (number). I have a book of collected E. E. Cummings poems which uses the letter l, and I trust it to reprint poetry correctly. It would fit better with the continuity of the poem as well. However, I also think, though it was probably meant as a letter, it was written to echo the number one, since this is repeated throughout the poem. I like the interpretation that the poem symbolizes at some point an ending of “two” or a beginning of “one.” This seems to echo a leaf beginning as a part of a tree (the leaf and the tree being two) and then falling, becoming one, alone, in the air. I also see some hope at the end, as perhaps loneliness (or “I-ness,” which suggests instead a concept and awareness of oneself as separate from the masses) is perhaps not a bad thing. The leaf changes from one leaf among thousands to an object of beauty, floating alone through the air.

    I apologize for writing so much. I hope it was, at least in part, useful.

  5. colleen says:

    I agree with rr that the poem’s central theme hinges on the juxtaposition of singularity and duplicity. Again, the pairing of letters (particularly the two ls in the middle of the poem), the parentheses, the possible layering of words, and even the number at the beginning of the poem (where there’s a 1, a 2 is sure to follow) all support the unexpected theme of two-ness in this poem. The fact that there are multiple readings of the word (loneliness, 1-liness, oneliness, I-ness) is ironic in that the poem, ostensibly about the notion of singularity, lacks a singular interpretation. The poem, like the individual, is neither as simple nor as lonely as it seems. Furthermore, the individual, like the poem, can only be defined as it relates to others. So, while not every interpretation is equal, interaction with a reader is necessary to the formation of meaning. Additionally, this is a poem about life and death. The leaf is an obvious representation of death, while the words “onliness” and “I-ness” assert the importance of existence (life). In addition, cummings gives the leaf action: It falls. It is on a journey toward death (in other words, life). The author essentially tells us, “an image of death imposes itself on my being,” yet, there is hope in this poem too. Being alone at least involves being, and dying implies having lived.

  6. adina says:

    i would love to read a novel written by e. e. cummings.

  7. Kyle says:

    rr duffings-

    You said, “Those of you who think you know it all are particularly annoying to those of us who do.”

    I should hope you take this lesson you shared very personally, as I believe it applies to you as much as it does anyone else, if not more. To follow that up, pointing out a minor grammatical mistake in Brian’s “critic” does nothing but point out that you dislike his point of view, and that you will do anything to bring him down a level below you. In fact, if you insist on being so nitpicky, I might point out your misspelling of “critique”. While I believe the importance of grammar is key in helping readers more clearly address your point, it does not invalidate ones argument, especially in on-line discussions where grammar and spelling might not be at the top of one’s priority list. Likewise, if we judged one on simply one’s usage of grammar, than we could call E.E. Cummings an idiot, as many of his poems follow no grammatical plan whatsoever; and almost never does he capitalize beginnings of sentences or finish them with a period.

    On the matter of opinions, I feel I would like to add my own in the different, but valid mix. I believe that a reader can interpret each poem in their own way. There is no conventionally ‘wrong’ answer to a poem. However, I believe anyone who interprets a poem in an ‘unconventional’ manner should be prepared to back it up, or explain how it is that they interpreted it the way that they did. If one fails to explain themselves logically, with references from the text itself, then this point of view can be dismissed. However, if one can in fact explain what they personally got out of the poem, even if nobody else agrees with them, then more power to them. This is how poetry should work. Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts as well.

  8. zoilo says:

    No other leaf ever made so much noise, like rrduffings does, or fell so noiselessly, like ee cummings does.

  9. Bonnie says:

    We studied this poem in English. The poem actually reads “A leaf falls in loneliness.” It symbolizes loneliness as a leaf falling from a tree; it is disconnected, lonely. The pattern that the letters fall in looks like the pattern a leaf would fall in, swaying left and right through the air. e. e. cummings also puts the word “one”, which is part of “loneliness,” and writes the l’s alone, which look like ones. (1(one) looks like l(the letter L)) You have to really think about cumming’s poems to understand their true meaning.

  10. Palms says:

    poetry isnt supposed to be interpreted one way or the other. it’s a way of expressing feelings through words; in this case probably a feeling of loneliness. poetry is an art form much like a song, just without music. everybody just take the sticks out of your arses and learn to live with other people’s point of view about ONE POEM.

  11. a says:

    A Leaf Falls In Loneliness

  12. Barbara Churilla says:

    The information on 1(a should be written: a leaf falls-loneliness or loneliness then what is in the ( ) which is: a leaf falls. The is no “on” in the poem. The visual pattern of the poem would help with the understanding of it. The last leaf to fall from the tree in the fall represents loneliness.

  13. rr duffings says:

    Brian, Brian, Brian. I quote, “These forms of criticism do not give a reader free reign to ‘invent’ their [sic] own interpretation.” The substance of that line is the singular thing about which you and I agree. It needs to be said, however, that it is difficult to put much faith in a critic’s critic who is conspicuously ignorant of grammatical considerations. How does ” a reader” agree with “their”? Try his or her.
    Your statement that the “author is not entirely lost” is horrific and revealing. By the way, thank you for the amateur,and amusingly condescending lesson on the various types of criticism. I’m surprised you didn’t pay the usual homage to the Deconstructionist School.
    Brian, you are a pseudointellectual. I desperately hope you are not teaching. Cab, you, on the other hand, are unpretentious and clearly intelligent.
    Finally, to that moron who thinks I am behaving in a holier than thou manner (and to Brian),I have this to say: Those of you who think you know it all are particularly annoying to those of us who do.

  14. Brian says:

    OK… rr’s reading is not wrong. In fact, it is a fine example of one way to read a poem. However, to say that a poem can only mean what the author intended is, in my opinion and the opinion of other academics, a farce. There are several schools of literary criticism. rr obviously falls into the “genetic” category, wherein all that a document is, can only be attributed to authorial intent. This is actually a dated, albeit still mildly popular, academic view. “New criticisim” and “subjectivism”, on the other hand allow for alternate interpretations. These forms of criticism do not give a reader free reign to “invent” their own interpretation, but rather profess that a text is a living thing that will allow for multiple interpretations that do not hinge on the lynchpin of authorial intent. Rather, these forms of criticism explore the text as an autonomous unit. The author is not entirely lost, but the author is only one contributing factor to the “meaning” of a work. These critics focus on language as a vehicle and understand that sometimes an individual can intend to say one thing, but inadvertently touch on another meaning that was unintended. There are many other schools of literary criticism that I will not take the time to list here. But it is important to note that most of us fall mostly into one category, but are influenced by others. Assuming that rr is Harvard educated (and I have no reason to doubt the assertion) his statements are highly irresponsible from an academic point of view.

  15. Jacinta says:

    the way this poem is written is new to me. i have never seen it before but when i read it over it makes alot more sense. the shape of the words describes how ‘a leaf falls on loneliness’…. it doesn’t fall straight down to the ground.. the wind picks it back up and it floats up and down before touching the earth, as do the words.

  16. cab says:

    I have been struggling with translation and teaching translation to 9th graders…I think that what rr states about this poem is sound and NOT elitist. Thank you rr duffings for your imput…

  17. peasgirl says:

    to me…the poem was saying..A leaf falls one in loneliness…when a leaf falls from a tree..it falls straight down..at the bottom before it hits ..its tossed up..just a bit..at the trunk of the tree. Just like the poem..it grabs back up in the words to grab another part of it..before it settles to the ground.

  18. DT says:

    Is it just me or does “rr duffings” think he is better than us?

  19. rr duffings says:

    Listen up.

    You are about to receive a fairly thorough analysis. I’m compelled to do this because I’ve read too much drivel on this site. By the way, a poem does not mean what YOU think it means. Some C average, idiot English teacher taught you that. It means what the poet intended it to mean. It is only slightly tempered by what you, the highly questionable reader and loose cannon of epic proportions, brings to the table. Fellow cannons, let us proceed.
    Parentheses occur in pairs. The beginning and end of the relationship are graphically suggested by the positioning of the parentheses. It is no accident that 2 letters (a couple) are paired as the leaf falls until the word “one” shockingly appears. It’s over. Notice how the “l” following “one” looks hauntingly like a person standing totally alone.
    Why then, is “iness” so large a word when juxtaposed with all the other words in the poem? I’ll offer that “iness” is I-ness. The state of being I ….. the very alone individual.
    We have thus progressed from 1/2 parentheses + “a” (one person beginning to combine with another?) to the other 1/2 parentheses + “s” (one person nearing the end, starting to finish? to disengage?) and winding up outside the parentheses of the relationship quite existentially alone ….. returning, as it were, to I-ness.
    LOOK at the poem. That is much of what cummings is trying to say. Loneliness is “one-liness.”
    I have a Harvard education and entirely too much tIme on my hands. I hope this has amused you.

  20. Vero says:

    This poem is very intriguing, though it might be a bit confusing the first time you read it, especially if you haven’t seen a poem with such form beforehand. I love how Cummings went outside the box in the sense of conventional means of writing poetry. The structure of the poem is fascinating and I love how he used the structure to amplify the effects. As many have pointed it out already, the way he’s written the poem actually does correspond to the pattern of a falling leaf. Instead of just reading the words in a straight line, Cummings has provided a visual means of impact as well. As for the interpretation of the first character, I agree that it can be both a number 1 and a letter l. The 1 symbolizes the one leaf, and the l is the first letter of the word “loneliness”.

    Truly amazing poem in my books. 🙂

  21. Marel says:

    Loneliness is momentarily interrupted by the falling of a leaf.

  22. VC says:

    I read this poem last year in American Literature class and I love it. I love how the word “loneliness” is broken up.. and I remember noticing the “ONE” by itself and it really makes the whole mood more apparent. I never knew that one bit about the “1” and “l” and how it’s meant to be both.

  23. liz says:

    it is a pretty lonely feeling to imagine one leaf falling from a tree

  24. Pablo says:

    I think the poem was made with the idea of iconicity; the verbal unit represents itself which it means: the letters fall vertically on loneliness, like the leaves do.

  25. shawn says:

    agnes, your teacher was probably just hitting on you.

  26. Anthony says:

    To the first poster in this comments section: one reason you may have difficulty understanding the poem is that the title it was given on this site is incorrect. His poetry is generally untitled (as was this work) so they usually go by the first lines of the poem when you refer to them. In that case, the title would be 1(a or l(a. A second (horrible) mistake is that whoever typed the title out as a single line actually made the mistake of adding an extra “on” where the letters “on” don’t exist in the lines of the poem. it’s not “on” loneliness, it’s “l (a leaf falls) oneliness” or, changing the letters a bit, “(a leaf falls) loneliness”

    Bah!!

  27. amy says:

    this is the kind of poem I feel like I need special knowledge to understand. It is like some modern art: if you don’t have any context or understanding of what the writer/artist is thinking and doing, you are left scratching your head. Sometimes I can feel this way looking at a canvas that is painted all white. It is a very educated man being daring and stepping outside of what he knows and has learned. This is a subversive statement against the whole notion of what poetry is? Is Cummings re-shaping poetry? the meaning is ambiguous. A leaf cannot fall on loneliness. cummings is trying to make our brains explode.

  28. Agnès says:

    one of my teachers gave me another interpretation to this poem. she saw it as sexual…I explain:

    cummings spoke and wrote French, so we can see l(a and le as “la” and “le”, the feminine and masculine “the”. so, la and le are making af and fa ( I let you imagine…), and in this, they are two (ll).after, comes the plural mark “s”.
    at this moment, there can be 2 interpretations: first, love unites them and they become one, repeated by l, or, it did not happen so well, and they are separated and become lonely again with one and l ( each one by his side).
    finally, iness could be read as I-ness, the notion of the self, and sex would become a way to express yourself, as transcendence…
    this is an interresting point of view, but I wonder what the teacher had in mind…
    by the way! as there only english speaker here…what does e.i or i.e mean? please, that bothers me!
    I hope you understand what I said, english is not my motherly tongue…bye!

  29. Stephanie says:

    this was the first Cummings poem i ever read, and i think it is beautiful.
    it was explained to me as a leaf falling from a tree of soldiers, and the words “leaf” and “falls” are broken up to symbolize the flipping motion of the leaf. and the word “loneliness” is broken up because it is so lonely that it doesn’t even feel like one word. also, the number 1 at the beginning, represents the futility of just one soldier.

  30. cory says:

    what if the poem isnt about deparity? i took it as individuality. when the leaf falls from the tree it is becoming its own identity. it is lonely only because it has not yet hit the ground (realized its identity) and it longs for the comfort of the group (tree full of leaves)

  31. Nick says:

    The first character is both a “1” and and “l” as others have noted. When Cummings wrote the poem, the coomon typewriter font did not distinguish — at all — between them. It’s intentionally ambiguous.

  32. helen says:

    I think this poem is beautiful. I am only 15 years of age so I may not know much about poems, but I loved this poem the very first time I read it and I think the simplicity of it is what makes it so unique.

  33. Andrea says:

    I believe, when you look at his poem-and I looked and read it many times before I GOT it-one can visualize how a slender leaf may twirl as it falls to the ground. It falls as a single entity. If you take the enclosed verse (a leaf falls) then go back to read the left over letters, you get “loneliness”-the two simply come together and create a lonely leaf falling. That’s my take on this poem and I’m sticking to it. Peace, Andrea

  34. nevo says:

    too twisted for my taste,the man was crazy!!!

  35. kerise says:

    I don’t like this. Five words does not count as a poem, no matter which way you organize it.

  36. jessie says:

    before i read “l(a,” i wrote an untitled poem about loneliness…

    i am a rose
    in the shape of a
    heart breaking
    piece
    by
    silky
    piece

    i can identify with his feelings of desperation. “l(a” has endeared me to e. e. cummings for a lifetime.

  37. Kaitlin says:

    The reason for the confusion about the first character of the poem is that when Cummings wrote it there weren’t computers with different fonts, just typewriters. If you look at the lowercase L and number one on a typewriter, you’ll see that they’re exactly the same. We’ll never know whether Cummings originally typed a number or a letter, but this ambiguity is intentional. It allows readers own thoughts to influence what the poem means to them. It’s a very zen style, almost haiku-like.

  38. peter says:

    Its what it makes you feel that is important. My interpretation is that the poem is cleverly designed and is exactly as it says ie a leaf falls on loneliness..this would explain the 2nd leaf (11) falling between the word loneiness thus it then spells
    one
    l
    iness
    and the last 3 words are powerful..I one iness ,,stand alone , loneiness .
    hav a good’ay mate .

  39. Febus says:

    This was the firts poem of Cummings I read and at first I thought I was not ok. Then I read it a second time… a third and a fourth time. Things were becoming clearer from reading to reading. Then, here it is: the One (the poem is like the number one of the Roman numbers, i.e. “I”). There are totally four “ones” there. The first letter (the “l”, respectively), one (writen like this), then an other letter “l” and, finally, the big one is the poem itself. I am the One, you are, everybody is. But, what do you see there… loneliness… You are the One (selfsuficient, as many philosophies teach), but alone. You are a falling leaf in the Fall. There are so many other leaves around, who will think about you? You will think about you. I will think about myself. The moment we stop thinking for each other, thinking about us as a community, loneliness comes. Everybody is there, but I denny him/her. I am here, but maybe no one can distinguish me. We are all falling leaves, without looking at each others eyes, accepting to vanish in nothing, eventhough we read Cummings. Cummings himself was one of these leaves, you know….

  40. michelle says:

    I think it’s the simplicity and yet power that this poem has that makes it truly captivating. It’s wrote with few words yet the structure and meaning of those sole words carry a strong message.

  41. Nathan says:

    This is the first poem by e.e.cummings I came into contact with some years ago. It kicked off a long relationship with this extrordinary poet.It took me some time to puzzle it out when BAM!!!! there it was. It affected me so much chills ran up and down my spine and I shed tears giggleing in awe of its simple power It, revealing its self like one of those three dee magic eye paintings and ahh!!! I have to agree with all assesments regarding its visualness the repeating of “1” To put the letters in any other order in my oppinion would steal its elegant thunder.

  42. Joe says:

    A Fall from a state of happiness to a state of loneliness is key…

  43. Bob says:

    It is a fall from a state of happiness to a state of loneliness…

  44. liana pehrsson-berindei says:

    Graphic poem. Open reading.

    My interpretation:

    Every life (mine “I” included) and death (the fall of a leaf) is an unique and personal experience (oneliness/loneliness).

    The image of the falling leaf as the end of life is not new.

    It reminds me of Rielke´s
    “But there is one who keeps this fall, infinitely gentle in his hand”.

  45. john gamble says:

    a poem is only alive while it is being read or thought about. As soon as the reader knows what the poem says or means, he or she moves on to another experience, leaving the poem it self to flutter to the ground much like the words in the poem l(a

  46. Kimmy Anonymous says:

    i love this poem cuz it has no proper anything and it doesnt even make sense! it rocks!! and it didnt get 18/20 points cuz it is a good poem and it is cool and stuff like that. and my english teacher can eat it for breakfast. it may sound like i have a lot of anger here and i do! but this poem is really awesome!

  47. Greg says:

    E.E.Cummings once said that how you read a poem affects what you get from it, so to some, they’ll read the last part as “oneliness” while others will see it as “loneliness”, suggesting the latter is, infact, lonesome.

  48. met says:

    cummings typed his poetry on a typewriter. Manual typewriters and electric typewriters were designed so that the lowercase letter “l” and the number “1” were identical. Typing classes instructed students to hit the lowercase “l” key to type the number one in order to save time.

    Take the poem. Type it using a Courier font. cummings was most definitely making use of the double meaning conveyed by a single character.

  49. Samwise Gamgee says:

    This poem is very lovely and I can someone feel the quite sigularity that is the leaf in the poem.
    There is some emphasis on the characters and breaking up of the lines in the poem.

    l(a

    le
    af
    fa
    ll

    s)
    one
    l

    iness

    The l’s definitely do look like ones. and “iness” I would guess to mean the state of being yourself, the word one in “loneliness”, “le” of “leaf” I often think of being french (in which Cummings does indeed use in some poems) for “the” an article denoting singularity and so on, and the separated a and f pairs in the “leaf falls”. What I can’t understand is why he had the two l’s paired together in “falls” if all this holds true?

    I guess that I’m looking to deep for something that isn’t there.

  50. Elizabeth says:

    I have heard it argued that this particular poem is not art. I disagree completely.

    Of course, it is most often read l(a leaf falls)oneliness, or “a leaf falls inside of / in loneliness.”

    But that cannot encapsulate the full meaning of the poem. The line breaks themselves are infinitely important.

    “l(a” As has been suggested, that first “l” could be a 1. In that case, it would be 1(a, kind of like the first quesiton on a test. Perhaps this suggests a beginning–enhanced by the presence of the open parenthesis…A suggestion that even in a singular moment of time, all is not static.

    “le
    af
    fa
    ll” Here I’m going to interrupt again. The possibility of the first “l” being a “1” has been suggested, but what if all of the “l”s were “1”s? This would be two ones together. Again, even loneliness is not omnipresent.

    “s)
    one” I’m surprised that this has not been mentioned before! There’s a real “one” in the middle of the poem!

    “l” Here’s the old “l” / “1” thing again.

    “iness” iness. I-ness. The state of being I, being one, being alone. A wholeness that is inherently lonely.

    Some general comments: In the moment that a leaf falls, it is completely alone. It leaves the safety of the tree above and eventually is embraced by the warm earth–but in the moment in between, it is suspended in the air, falling eternally. Yet even that utter loneliness does not last forever.

    The simplicity of the poem is another thing that attracts me to it. It is truly the pinnacle of minimalism. Yet, through brilliant mastery, cummings managest to evoke as strong an image as other poets have with thousands of words.

    I first read this poem about a year and a half ago, and it has influenced me more than The Odyssey ever did.

    But, back to the minimalism, a leaf falling really is a single moment in time. I kind of like that suggestions of cummings’ interpretations are little more than suggestions. We know he found something about the moment to be lonely, but anything more than that is left to the reader–either a great puzzle or a starting point for a wonderful brainstorm.

    And to think that I first thought he had fallen asleep on his typewriter or something of the sort…

  51. Basai says:

    It is a quiet simple statement of what is and what cannot be changed. Alone and without…though there is a subtle suggestion that the alone-ness is not alone because there are others who are experiencing the same…or are there?
    Frank from Singapore touched upon this lightly.
    I also like Jordan’s idea of “peaceful origin”.

  52. Donnie says:

    Why is ee cummings a poet? This poem digs deep into the poe revealing whats inside. I like this 10/10.

  53. Brandon says:

    15 bucks, little man…put that shit, in my hand if that $ doesnt show, then you’ll owe me owe me OH!!!!

  54. Boo says:

    did anyone ever think that the poem could be put together a different way, instead of just the word loneliness, mabey theres other words that could be put together, you never know?

  55. isa says:

    when the leaf falls it becomes disunited. It seperates and falls. It is no longer connected with everything else and on its own. However that is not the end of the story. Its unique end is something to behold and appreciate. We can see its graceful fall to the ground. The fact of its end is as beautiful to behold as its origins were. That is why it is not merely a poem but a concrete poem. A picture to take home and not just an idea to ponder. l(a leaf falls)oneliness

    Each fall of each leaf is unique and whole and complete and tells the whole story. It is wholeness. It is completeness. It is being the whole universe. Which all beings share each in its own unique way.

  56. nickky says:

    Well I personally think that here e.e. cummings is just stateing plain as day, that no leaf falls with another leaf.. they all fall alone. If you think about this it is very true because in life when your at the pits of life you feel like you are alone and that you got their alone. Thereby “falling” alone… sometimes poets don’t have any hidden meanings or anything, its just stated right there. For example: some of you are trying to explain the poems struture, but I think its just a vizual of a leaf falling, nothing more.

    ~God bless~

  57. Robert Rowlands says:

    One way of reading the poem would be to ask why ‘a leaf falls’ appears in the middle of the word ‘loneliness’. The effect of this is to draw out the word, and thus prolong its duration when pronounced. Is the effect of this to suggest the slowness of time to the lonely subject? Or does the poem draw attention to a state of extreme isolation in which an event as seemingly unimportant as a leaf falling is enough to disrupt the entire structure of the poem? The disconcerting effect of this disruption for the reader could be indicative of a general feeling of confusion in the poem. With the inevitable connotation of death hanging over everything, it is difficult to salvage any sense of positivity, value or worth in the text. However, the gentleness of the single image we are given, and the slender and willowy structure of the poem itself, forces a sense of ambivalence upon us that is difficult to clarify. Presumably such effects are part of Cummings’ intention.

  58. Laurence says:

    This poem is very lovely and I can someone feel the quite sigularity that is the leaf in the poem.
    There is some emphasis on the characters and breaking up of the lines in the poem.

    l(a

    le
    af
    fa
    ll

    s)
    one
    l

    iness

    The l’s definitely do look like ones. and “iness” I would guess to mean the state of being yourself, the word one in “loneliness”, “le” of “leaf” I often think of being french (in which Cummings does indeed use in some poems) for “the” an article denoting singularity and so on, and the separated a and f pairs in the “leaf falls”. What I can’t understand is why he had the two l’s paired together in “falls” if all this holds true?

    I guess that I’m looking to deep for something that isn’t there.

  59. jacob says:

    firstly, i want to say how impressed i am that someone was interested enough in cummings to create a website featuring his work, thank you for that, this poem, which i think is actually read “a leaf falls IN loneliness”, is great because it says so much but is so simple. the way Cummings was able to manipulate the rules of modern language to get his point across is amazing

  60. Frank says:

    Is there anything worse than the loneliness in this poem? I frantically search to form the word Loneliness, but I miss the first L, for the nearest compatible L I see is the 2nd one, which was never meant to be in place of the first.
    The (falling leaf) , and all things in Life, has distracted me from finding the true 1 that makes me complete.

  61. Confucius says:

    I think this poem is about… well… loneliness! I’m only eight, so I have no necessarity to write anything else! Peace out! (exclamation point lol)

  62. jet says:

    I like how the poet made a play on words, and made the last word look like a falling leaf.

  63. crafton says:

    I like the fact that when you first encounter this poem it’s usually in a book with several other poems around it (on the other pages) and it seems to have drifted into the book (or onto the webpage…) like a leaf being pressed in the pages……. I also think it silly to assume the first “L” to be anything other than an “L”. The “l”‘s are all over the poem helping the imagery of the VERY LETTER “L”……..as in “leaf” as in “lonliness” as in “faLLs”……as in a poem shaped like an “L”, pressed between the pages of a book????????? hmmmmmmmmmm…………….. So, yeah, definately not a number one………it’s SPELLED out. I love the very existance of this wonderful poem.

  64. InukoBlaINC says:

    I think this poem means that a leaf falls in lonliness because the “a leaf is falling is enclosed in the lonliness. but whatever.

  65. Drew says:

    A leaf falls on loneliness seems to be either a sequl or a post !blac poem. This poem truly represents the changing of something. It also seems as though this poem was written at the end of E.E. Cummings life for a reason. A leaf falling from a tree marks the change of seasons. This could represent something that is special to E.E. Cummings.

  66. Rita says:

    Maybe the poem is simple and it has’t attracted you at first sight.Read it some times and you will find something about real life.

  67. monkeymagnet says:

    pretentious

  68. Krystin says:

    A tree is covered by many leaves, and in the fall when it loses its leaves they all tend to fall within the same time period of a week or so. A leaf doesn’t fall alone, so he is not lonely, but he is still one leaf falling from a tree. “oneliness”

  69. Matt says:

    I could have sworn that it began with an L and not a 1

  70. kristen says:

    i just plainly think that it’s great.

  71. saul says:

    i waznt feeling diz poem..holla

  72. abuckman says:

    or you could assume that there is a mistake in the first and sixth comments and that the “1”(number one) referred to is actually an “l” (lowercase letter L). this could then lead one to interpret the poem as a statement/meditation on loneliness defined by, or represented by, a leaf falling – the ultimate gesture of loneliness as it falls through the air all alone from the tree, its home, its parent, life etc. the brevity of the poem and its vertical structure also add to the sense of loneliness: it looks lonely on the page and could be said to be falling down the page, like the leaf.

  73. abuckman says:

    the word “loneliness” does not actully appear in the poem at all. what is written is “oneliness” a made up word based around the idea of being alone set up in the first line. however if you accept that the parenthesis looks similar to a lower case “L” then the word can take on two meanings – being one: “oneliness” and or lonely: “)oneliness”. Or perhaps both at the same time in a suitably vague, make you own mind up, cummings kinda way?

  74. Ryan Rademacher says:

    okay. in the original comment on this poem, someone has written that “l(a” means “a leaf falls on loneliness”. okay, here’s the mistake: the words which compose the poem are “loneliness” (surrounding the ( )s. & “a leaf falls” (inside the
    ( )s NOT a leaf falls ON loneliness.

    cheers to my fellow ee cummings’ fans!!

    rpr

  75. Jimbo says:

    The poem doesn’t have to mean anything. It’s just a piece of visual poetry that describes loneliness. And the leaf doesn’t fall ON loneliness. The whole thing written on one line reads: “1(a leaf falls)oneliness”, with the “1” (one) cleverly substituting the letter “l” to emphasize singularity.

  76. Andrea says:

    I think this poem means that when you feel lonley even a day can feel like an entire season.

  77. David says:

    You should not make assumptions on what e.e. meant by his poem. You can only say what the poem means by what the poem says. Anything else you say is conjecture. You can think the poem means whatever you want, however there is only so much the poem says, there is only so much proof.

  78. Tom says:

    The point here is not normal loneliness, as can be seen by the emphasis on the ones. Dying is the one moment of live where you are absolutely, totally alone.

  79. steven says:

    tree( roots trunk leaf) this end less circle of life
    how could one be lonely

  80. Abby says:

    This poem just shows how at times, life can be lonely and you can be on your own, but that things will get better. Yea a leaf falls in loneliness, but next sping don’t they all come back and are all united as a tree? This poem also shows how at times, you need to be on your own, to make your own mistakes and learn from them. I love ee cummings… who doesn’t?

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