dying is fine)but Death

?o
baby
i

wouldn’t like

Death if Death
were
good:for

when(instead of stopping to think)you

begin to feel of it,dying
‘s miraculous
why?be

cause dying is

perfectly natural;perfectly
putting
it mildly lively(but

Death

is strictly
scientific
& artificial &

evil & legal)

we thank thee
god
almighty for dying
(forgive us,o life!the sin of Death

Analysis, meaning and summary of e.e. cummings's poem dying is fine)but Death

27 Comments

  1. William says:

    What a perfect metaphor for this poem to chop it off at the knees to protect a copy(so-called)right. Want to know what cummngs meant by death? Here it is, served up on a platter by the copyright holder, artificial and evil and LEGAL.
    They know not what they do, LOL.

  2. Claudine Collier-Fanaselle says:

    I believe that what we are supposed to learn from this poem is that dying is the beautiful, natural ending of life. The wondrous moment when the spirit leaves the body, while Death is all about hospitals and flatlines, lawyers and wills, morticians and embalming fluid, all the ways in which we take nature out of dying.

  3. David says:

    I read this completely differently – didn’t Cummings often (if not usually) use the “petit mort” sense of death in his poetry? I don’t think I’m reading too much into this – between “?o/baby” and dying “perfectly/putting/it mildly lively” versus Death “artificial &/evil & legal”, and “the sin of Death” – I took it as Cummings’ irreverent but heartfelt commentary on the role of sex in society. I don’t mean to be vulgar at all, I just thought that was a characteristic of Cummings’ poetry and automatically read it that way. The more literal interpretation makes sense too, though, so now I’m not so sure. Does anyone have a link to Cummings’ own reading of the poem?

  4. William Brennan says:

    As cummings uses them here, neither dying or death refer to the death of the body. ‘Death’ here, is actually a fate worse than death, as we know it. It is the death or awareness, of feeling and consciousness. It’s the attachment to the world of form and identification with the ego and its objectification of ‘things’ (maya).
    ‘Dying’ is the awakening into the moment; “when you begin to feel of it”. It’s the death of fear, the death of ego, being fully present beyond the mind “(instead of stopping to think)”.
    Thus the gratitude for dying and the regret of death.

  5. justina says:

    jessie’s got it…when he says “dying,” he’s referring to the physical cessation of a heartbeat and brain activity. but when he says “Death,” it definitely symbolizes a spiritual death, a loss of one’s vivacity and fervor, a loss of one’s beliefs or morals, a loss of one’s essential self (something that, more often than not, occurs while one is still breathing and physically functioning).the last little part:
    we thank thee
    god
    almighty for dying
    (forgive us,o life!the sin of Death

    makes this rather apparent…dying is natural and good, but Death is abominable.

  6. Lawrence Besserman says:

    For what it’s worth, I regularly misremember the refrain of this poem as ‘Death isn’t so bad, but dying, o baby’–the reverse of Cummings’ evaluation of the participle versus the noun. The thinking behind my misremembering is that the actual experience of ‘dying’ is terrible, whereas the abstraction of the noun ‘death’ is bearable–i think the irony of Cummings’ beginning with the difficult-to-swallow statement ‘diung is fine’ should not be lost. . .

  7. Jill says:

    Jessie’s got it right. dying is physical. death is spiritual. dying just means your body is dead, you stopped breathing…but your spirit and your memory lives on. Death means your spirit no longer exists, you’re lifeless. ironically, some people can be Death while they’re alive.

  8. A & W says:

    Death is the end, its final but dying is life. We understand dying but we dont understand death and because of that we fear death.

  9. Cara says:

    I like this poem lots more than the others by e.e cummings- it makes so much more sense!

  10. Jasmine Stradbrook says:

    The way I feel about the poem is that he talks about how death might be bad and unwelcoming but it is something from the day we are born, know it will come. So in that way it is something that we look towards. It talks about just beofore we die we feel it instead of thinking of it.

  11. Bonnie says:

    dying is fine but death o baby.

    possibly the best line ever.

  12. David says:

    Cummings is discussing dying as a movement and a leaving of things, moment by moment by living people. Things you do when you are “not there” – like when you’re having fun but not thinking about it. Dying to disappointing and hurtful things, but with no “death” to it. Death closes doors. Dying opens them.

  13. randy says:

    this poem is trying to say something about dying thats about all i got out of it!

  14. Jessie says:

    It seems to me that Cummings is separating dying and death throught the Christian conception of life after dying through Jesus. I think that when he speaks of dying he is talking of the physical process we go through before the body dies. But, his conception of death seems to be the death of the spirit, or when we turn away from God, which is only final after the process of dying.

  15. Timothy Barr says:

    I don’t believe e.e. is trying to say how dying is superior to death. I believe the poem is half-ironic, and half-introspective. We fear our mortality, but we praise the process as noble. I think e.e. is reflecting on his own dilemma in this subject. How to deal with opposing views on dying and death. he is not telling, he is asking, or more likely pondering.

  16. krissy says:

    it is hard 2 understand!

  17. bethany says:

    i love this poem b/c he’s so right! death and dying are perceived completely different – or at least should be, is what i assume he’s saying. death is usally viewed very negatively, but dying, its a natural process we all go through, its still a part of life. but death is final, and i think the God reference reference has a lot to do w/ that comment, b/c Jesus (being interchangable w/ God) rose from the dead (death) – e.e. praises him for dying, not for his death.

  18. bev gardner says:

    E. E. Cumming has a audio recording read by author. This is wonderful.

  19. rokhoon says:

    i really like the poem. it gets me to think about this matter

  20. Tutor girl says:

    live–don’t just exist. As long as you are breathing you have hope and at the point that you die you also have hope because of Jesus’ death. Also from the moment of birth we are all dying (ironic isn’t it?)

  21. maryjane says:

    i think ee cummings is trying to justify death and dying in the sense that in the end of the poem he begins to glorify god for dying. He is setting a division between death and dying a looking at them from scientifical and ethical perspectives.

  22. Ashliey says:

    I Really dont understand the poem and it is weriod. And I Really dont like it

  23. Chelsia Wiggleston says:

    Cummings shows us the mastery of landuage and yet, withthe mastery, a certain breaking of the rules that leads into the insight we derive. It is in this piece especially that we can become clear of the several intents this poem holds. The surface and later, the inspiration shown in the deepest bowls of his work become apperant only through revelation and understanding of the man himself.

  24. Adrienne says:

    I think this poem is about a love of life and nature. It seems cummings sees life as a gift from God and death is to leave behind that gift. Yes it is legal, but its a crime because the world is so beautiful. It is obvious that cummings doesnt like science very much when he refers to death (negatively) as “scientific”. Death is when you have no pulse or brain activity. But dying is nature, not science.

  25. suzi says:

    in this poem ee shows us that dying is different to death. he paints the image in our minds that death is a legal crime but dying is normal and not a crime.this is hard to understand but after you have read through it a few times it becomes clear.

  26. Arlin says:

    My dear wife of 42 years, Jean, passed away earlier this month. In a eulogy written by my brother Edward, he refers to this being my favorite ee cummings poem. My brother says, “cummings was right. Her spirit merely made its transition.”

  27. T. Anstett says:

    Notice the difference between the present participle “dying” and the common noun “Death.” ee displays his tolerance for life with the use of the participle and his distance from life with the
    ‘scientific” Death. The poem takes on a prayer form at the end – a common ee device where he brings together contrary topics into a magical, yet logical phrase that does his thematic and rhetorical bidding

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