it may not always be so;and i say
that if your lips,which i have loved,should touch
another’s,and your dear strong fingers clutch
his heart,as mine in time not far away;
if on another’s face your sweet hair lay
in such a silence as i know,or such
great writhing words as,uttering overmuch,
stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;

if this should be,i say if this should be-
you of my heart,send me a little word;
that i may go unto him,and take his hands,
saying,Accept all happiness from me.
Then shall i turn my face,and hear one bird
sing terribly afar in the lost lands.

Analysis, meaning and summary of e.e. cummings's poem it may not always be so

18 Comments

  1. Ricardo says:

    It is a beautiful poem. Bjork also sings this poem in the song “Sonnets / Unrealities”. It’s a beautiful rendition.

  2. Maria says:

    What a beautiful poem. Only those who have experienced this kind of love will understand that it is possible to let go, because you love someone so much you just want him to be happy, with or without you.

  3. will says:

    this is such a beutiful poem. my english teacher gave it to the class. i love it.

  4. Sly says:

    This is one of the all-time greats in love poetry. We all have an experience like this; a time when a loved one leaves us for another- or perhaps even the sense of slowly losing them from your life. As they drain away inevitably like sand in your fists; the tighter you clutch at the last few vestiges of how it used to be, how it could be- but how many of us can truly say that like Cummings, we have been willing to give up the love of our life, ‘all happiness’, for the sake of another’s, without any resentment? Perhaps this is what love ought to be like, and may yet prove to be, for us all. We can only hope.

  5. vasilis says:

    i had once touched your lips…and i had wished u ll be happy forever…do u remember how i broke then everything in pieces and watched u go…did u see me turning my face and hearing that bird sing terribly afar in the lost lands?
    All my love my friend wherever u r…

  6. Sena says:

    it’s like watching the rain through the window, an old song playing on the back, and feeling sad without knowing why…

  7. shanaynay that cali beez says:

    this poem is so hot.
    but sad.
    and cutee.

  8. Punguss says:

    a couple months ago i was introduced to this wonderfully expressive poem. i was 17. i hate the fact that bjork had turned it into sound (hence the word sound and not music or an expressive form of art). of course this poem is my all time favorite and never has a poem ever sruck a chord in me so strongly.

  9. tamara zerafa says:

    Such an increadibly beautiful poem. No other way to describe it really. I love how he is able to express his feeling with such a perfect choice of words. Especially in this poem. But i love this one the most. The fact that he can still give his blessing to something that in turn is hurting him, but not forgetting the sourness of the situation right at the end when he hears a “bird sing terribly” to sum up his thoughts. Bjork has also done a wonderful job of turning this into sound. I absolutely love it!

  10. maria josé says:

    I fell in love with this poem, not 40 years ago, but I was about 17 as well. I was in a bookshop in Lisbon with someone I loved at the time and I opened casually a fine bilingual edition of english and american poetry exactly in the page where this poem was. I read it in english and I cried. My boyfriend offered me the book and it’s still the only book with poetry in english I have. I don’t read or write in english apart from scientific works, I’m not a great reader of anglo-saxon literature even in portuguese translations. But e.e. cummings will always be in my heart because of this poem.
    Like Chris Heinitz says, this is not a sad poem; it’s one of the greatest celebrations of real love you can have: the kind of real love that makes you protect the happiness of the one you love above your one.

  11. Chris Heinitz says:

    I fell in love with this poem over 40 years ago when I was 17. Many things that I loved then I smile at now but I still rate this as being truly wonderful. It isn’t a SAD poem (see other comments). It is about an on-going relationship that is so imbued with the real depths of love that cummings is saying that IF it should end his love means that he wants the other person to be happy so he would want to pass on his own happiness before he crawls away and cries his eyes out. It is one of the greatest celebrations of real love.

  12. João Gabriel says:

    This poem is really beautiful. I’m in the process of translating it to Portuguese just now. It’s very expressive! E. E. Cummings develops his poetry with such a masterness that it enraptures me completely!

  13. Jenn says:

    This poem represents a time in my life where I was in love with someone who left me for someone else. It is about rising above the pain and consoling yourself and the loss you feel. It is a positive reaction to a sad situation. Full of wonderful imagry, it definitely strikes a chord.

  14. Melody says:

    This poem is sad. He’s saying that if I can’t have you because you love someone else then my blessing goes with you and him.

  15. Eric Snowfeild says:

    This is such a good poem! I love it and I was so happy to hear Bjork Sing it!

  16. Billy says:

    Bjork is great, but listen to Mathilde Santings recording of “it may not always be so” and “maggie and millie and mollie and may” from her album Water Under The Bridge and you too will fall in love

  17. Shaggy says:

    Yep…this poem is represented most beautifully on Medulla.

  18. nu&clear says:

    if you love this poem, look out for björk’s new album, medúlla, on which she sings a song based upon this.

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