the fear and exhilaration of loving. The poem whirls in a celebration of wonder and risk, refusing stasis and caution—a song to vitality.
Cummings called the revolutionary "i" of his poems the "non-hero" (quoted in Kennedy 175). Here "i" is paradoxical: Although far from the brash hero of classical and romantic love poetry, nevertheless "I," a vulnerably open lover, is heroic in embracing the risks of loving. The poem's economical diction reinforces this, juxtaposing fragility and power: The "most fragile gesture" can "enclose" the speaker; the "slightest look" can "unclose" him. The texture of fragility is eloquent and compelling, and it has depth as well as delicacy. From its overarching metaphor of the closed self opening and shutting, other connections ripple outward through metaphor: A self closed "as fingers" is "unclosed" one petal at a time by the lover's look and is thus also compared with the rosebud, opened by spring's persuasion.
The poem's punctuation defies standard grammar, reaching to express less rational connections. In the poem "since feeling is first," Cummings's ideas about grammar are suggested through the metaphor of putting aside "the syntax of things" to experience life more fully. Cummings, pulled from childhood toward painting as well as poetry, finds the expression of each word maximized by its placement. The silences between words invest simple term with great care. The poem "somewhere i have never travelled" avoids excess and has a simplicity in its diction and an unflinching emotional openness. In true modernist form, its hallmarks are questing and experimentation, and it shows a revi-talization of form and theme.
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