yes is a pleasant country… (XXXVIII)

yes is a pleasant country:
if’s wintry
(my lovely)
let’s open the year

both is the very weather
(not either)
my treasure,
when violets appear

love is a deeper season
than reason;
my sweet one
(and april’s where we’re)

Analysis, meaning and summary of e.e. cummings's poem yes is a pleasant country… (XXXVIII)

10 Comments

  1. Dragonhead says:

    I found this poem in the preface of a grammar book (!) and this is how I unravelled it without consulting any further sources (except Brewer’s for “violet”)

    – Yes is a pleasant country => “Yes” means agreement, that things are ok. So it’s pleasant to have a situation, in which everybody can say yes, feels ok.
    – If’s wintry => “If” – that’s the conditional; so when we do or get things upon condition it’s not the same as “ok, great”. Might give you a chilly feeling.
    – (my lovely) => here it becomes clear that this is about love! Brackets indicate that this phrase is an aside or a secondary thought; the narrator is adressing someone dear to him
    – let’s open the year => the year starts in winter, so we’re still in “if”, but as the year continues times will get pleasanter; so the narrator addresses the lover “Let’s” do this together, start something “conditional” that will grow into something else

    – both is the very weather => when winter ends and the pleasant time starts – but both “ingredients” are needed for this particular weather
    – (not either) => neither conditional “IF” nor unconditional “YES” meet the necessary requirements for violets, it’s another aside and as it is at the same position as the aside addressed to the lover in the first stanza, it might be read as an aside to the lover as well, perhaps picking up an old argument between them?
    – my treasure => now the narrator addresses the lover without any asides / brackets; “treasure” -> a very valuable person
    – when violets appear => violets symbolize true love

    As I read the poem the lovers were not quite in accordance of what it means to be in love – practically, like living together, getting married, preferring an open relationship or philosophically, how to really feel love, express it, doubt it … (yes, if…). The poem emphasizes that these kinds of insecurities or arguments are part of true love – the wintry “if” is needed in the spring, as well as the more powerful sun of the “pleasant country” (YES).

    The third stanza wasn’t in my grammar book, so I only got to know it today, but it confirmed my reading of the poem. I like the idea of “April” and the “deeper season than reason”

    • American Poems says:

      Hey Dragonhead, thanks for the insight on this poem. I love that you found it in a grammar book – cummings may not always be grammatically correct, but his poetry is ever fascinating to me.

  2. Dylan Grace Voorhees says:

    I am a 10 years old girl. I was reading this little poem because I am home from school with a cold. It took me a little bit to figure it out what it meant. But when I did I wrote it down and hear is what I thought about the line:

    “both is the very weather”- it is winter and spring but it is either, it is LOVE
    violets can appear in both winter and spring and represent LOVE

  3. Renae says:

    I have to write an essay on cummings and I’m using this one to show how he reconciles his Pantheistic and Romantic viewpoints into one poem… it is in essence a love poem but uses images of nature that show his pantheistic influences… I hope. It’s the only one I can find that seems to have both in it so hopefully it’ll turn out all right. I do like that first line though.

  4. fluff says:

    I’m having a lot of problems with this poem. I’m spanish and I can’t stand where are the deviations.

  5. ConqueringId says:

    I think it is saying, perhaps, the concept of a lover giving in to him or not. He has used the symbols of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ before in poems, and that was the idea that was crossed. Yes as a pleasant country and no as a wintry field signifies that she should say yes to him.

  6. nadia benhouidi says:

    It is Cummings`s peculiar use of language that interests me. He violates the rules of language to create meaning. ee cummings`s poetry is based on the principle of foregrounding. According to the Russian Formalist school, the aim of poetic language is to surprise the reader with a fresh and dynamic consciousness of its linguistic means, to de-automize what is normally taken for granted. In this poem there are many grammatical and semantic deviations. Thanks to this unusual and creative use of language the conventional theme of love is expressed in an unconventional way. the departure from the normal linguistic use communicates the poet`s call for the necessity to free oneself from any constraint and experience love to the full. LOVE is a conditionless and reasonless feeling. LOVE, when true ,cancels all the seasons except SPRING. Together, SPRING will become the only season of our new year.

  7. SilkCut says:

    “yes is a pleasant country”
    Music by Susanne Abbuehl
    poem by E.E.Cummings
    in
    Susanne Abbuehl – “April” – ECM 1766
    ************************************
    Susanne Abbuehl, voice
    Wolfert Brederode, piano, harmonium, melodica
    Christof May, clarinet, bass clarinet
    Samuel Rohrer, drums, percussion

    track no.1 – 5’24”

    bye bye from Venice – Italy
    SilkCut

  8. vesa says:

    I have just spent an hour in class being explained this poem and finally I saw the err of my ways in ridiculing it in my mind. It reads very beautifully even if you do not pay attention to the words. But to understand that this is a love poem takes abit of work.

  9. David says:

    I love the meaning and rhythm of this poem. Wonderfully done!

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