a clown’s smirk in the skull of a baboon

a clown’s smirk in the skull of a baboon
(where once good lips stalked or eyes firmly stirred)
my mirror gives me,on this afternoon;
i am a shape that can but eat and turd
ere with the dirt death shall him vastly gird,
a coward waiting clumsily to cease
whom every perfect thing meanwhile doth miss;
a hand’s impression in an empty glove,
a soon forgotten tune,a house for lease.
I have never loved you dear as now i love

behold this fool who,in the month of June,
having certain stars and planets heard,
rose very slowly in a tight balloon
until the smallening world became absurd;
him did an archer spy(whose aim had erred
never)and by that little trick or this
he shot the aeronaut down,into the abyss
-and wonderfully i fell through the green groove
of twilight,striking into many a piece.
I have never loved you dear as now i love

god’s terrible face,brighter than a spoon,
collects the image of one fatal word;
so that my life(which liked the sun and the moon)
resembles something that has not occurred:
i am a birdcage without any bird,
a collar looking for a dog,a kiss
without lips;a prayer lacking any knees
but something beats within my shirt to prove
he is undead who,living,noone is.
I have never loved you dear as now i love.

Hell(by most humble me which shall increase)
open thy fire!for i have had some bliss
of one small lady upon earth above;
to whom i cry,remembering her face,
i have never loved you dear as now i love

Analysis, meaning and summary of e.e. cummings's poem a clown’s smirk in the skull of a baboon


  1. Beth says:

    My best friend & I memorized this poem in college and now in my50s I still remember i. It’s most definitely an awesome poem about an unrequited love and one of my favorites still today.

    • Just wondering says:

      Could it be written from the perspective of a man in a coma before his passing to his wife who is there by his side ?

  2. GiGi says:

    I love this poem. A man stricken by an unttainable love, and is left feeling empty like the absurd images he describes. He can’t let go of his feelings, because everytime she refuses him he loves her even more. The last line of each stanza is repeated, but the final line has one slight alteration. Both of the “i’s” are lower case. I think saying that finally he can’t handle it anymore and is now so weakened he is no longer whole.

  3. Don Frenette says:

    Implosion, explosion…fission, fusion…being, non-being, e.e. has it all. What a collection of images!

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.