Subscribe: by Email | in Reader

pity this busy monster, manunkind -- e e cummings

(Poem #57) pity this busy monster, manunkind
pity this busy monster, manunkind,

not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim (death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
--- electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange; lenses extend
unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish
returns on its unself.
                          A world of made
is not a world of born --- pity poor flesh

and trees, poor stars and stones, but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We doctors know

a hopeless case if --- listen: there's a hell
of a good universe next door; let's go
-- e e cummings
[<> for justification]

Cummings is by no means an easy poet to read. His poems are somewhat dense
and cryptic, and often require several readings before one can truly
appreciate them. However, they are always worth the effort, as is amply
evidenced by the poem above - one of my favourites for the sheer beauty of
its language. Note the plethora of invented compounds (something Cummings
excels at - and there's a lot more to it than sticking two randomwords
together), the almost surreal yet wonderfully nail-on-the-head phrases, and
the way the unusual formatting enhances the poem rather than annoying the

Though this is superficially similar to the Whitman poem, there is a
significant difference. The critical attitude and the somewhat sarcastic
tone do not change the fact that Cummings *has* appreciated the marvels
inherent in science and technology. This is a whole nother fallacy - not
that Science is a dull grey blanket thrown over the face of Nature, but
rather that it is a glitteringly and dangerously seductive trap into which
mankind - sorry, man*un*kind, is walking with his eyes wide open. Actually,
it's hard to call this one a fallacy - the view is widely held, and not only
by non-scientists. Needless to say, I disagree, but that's another matter -
it doesn't affect the poem's value in any way.

Biographical Notes:

  Cummings, E.E.
  b. Oct. 14, 1894, Cambridge, Mass., U.S.
  d. Sept. 3, 1962, North Conway, N.H.

  in full EDWARD ESTLIN CUMMINGS, American poet and painter who first
  attracted attention, in an age of literary experimentation, for his
  eccentric punctuation and phrasing. The spirit of New England dissent and
  of Emersonian "Self-Reliance" underlies the urbanized Yankee colloquialism
  of Cummings' verse. Cummings' name is often styled "e.e. cummings" in the
  mistaken belief that the poet legally changed his name to lowercase
  letters only. Cummings used capital letters only irregularly in his verse
  and did not object when publishers began lowercasing his name, but he
  himself capitalized his name in his signature and in the title pages of
  original editions of his books.

  Cummings received his B.A. degree from Harvard University in 1915 and was
  awarded his M.A. in 1916. During World War I he served with an ambulance
  corps in France, where he was interned for a time in a detention camp
  because of his friendship with an American who had written letters home
  that the French censors thought critical of the war effort. This
  experience deepened Cummings' distrust of officialdom and was symbolically
  recounted in his first book, The Enormous Room (1922).

  In the 1920s and '30s he divided his time between Paris, where he studied
  art, and New York City. His first book of verse was Tulips and Chimneys
  (1923), followed by XLI Poems and & (1925); in the latter year he received
  the Dial award for distinguished service to American letters.

  In 1927 his play him was produced by the Provincetown Players in New York
  City. During these years he exhibited his paintings and drawings, but they
  failed to attract as much critical interest as his writings. Eimi (1933)
  recorded, in 432 pages of experimental prose, a 36-day visit to the Soviet
  Union, which confirmed his individualist repugnance for collectivism. He
  published his discussions as the Charles Eliot Norton lecturer on poetry
  at Harvard University (1952-53) under the title i: six nonlectures (1953).

  In all he wrote 12 volumes of verse, assembled in his two-volume Complete
  Poems (1968).

        -- EB


  Cummings' moods were alternately satirical and tough or tender and
  whimsical. He frequently used the language of the streets and material
  from burlesque and the circus. His erotic poetry and love lyrics had a
  childlike candour and freshness.

        -- EB

  In his work, Cummings experimented radically with form, punctuation,
  spelling and syntax, abandoning traditional techniques and structures to
  create a new, highly idiosyncratic means of poetic expression. Later in
  his career, he was often criticized for settling into his signature style
  and not pressing his work towards further evolution. Nevertheless, he
  attained great popularity, especially among young readers, for the
  simplicity of his language, his playful mode and his attention to subjects
  such as war and sex. At the time of his death in 1962, he was the second
  most widely read poet in the United States, after Robert Frost.

        -- The Academy of American Poets
        <[broken link]>

  ...In addition, readers' enjoyment and comprehension of the poetry will be
  greatly increased by a good working knowledge of Cummings' life. To an
  unusual degree, Cummings attempted to inhabit the self that he depicted in
  his poems.

        -- Spring (The Journal of the E. E. Cummings Society)


61 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Coolweng8 said...

this poem is quite complex

Cavol Forbes said...

What the hell is this poem about, exactly?

Weng Fung said...

I KNOW WHAT IT IS ABOUT! Its about technology... and the busy monster is mankind.... mankind that keeps enhancing technology cuz he feels godly, supreme, and the need to perfect technology("...comfortable disease...") And about "(death and life safely beyond)"...perhaps its about immortality being discovered by technology.

Hey, Coolweng8... My real first name is Weng!


Please consider these comments for your e.e. cummings page:
I have an interpretation for the e. e. cummings poem pity this busy

I believe the poem is basically saying that although scientists may
discover new things, such as cars, some other things get lost, such as
the environment. For every new thing we invent we lose something else.
The progress that we are making in technology is a vicious cycle. The
things we make, make us feel big when we are really little. The things
we make that use electricity (electrons deify.) destroy our environment.
Television (a big lense) changes things we didn't want into things that
we do want (unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish returns unto
itself.) Advertisements make people want things they never even thought
about wanting before.
"a world of made is not a world of born" means that no matter what we
make it can never replace nature. He asks us to be sensitive to natural
things instead of towards man made machines. "we doctors know a hopeless
case" means that the outcome isn't looking good and that this poem isn't
exactly going to do much about it. There's a better place next door,
nature. Let's go. You don't see many kids outside anymore. They are all
glued to the t.v. set. Lets go explore the world outside that most
people take for granted, while its still there to explore.

Catherine Stewart

Cinco Ranch High School, 9th Grade

Zhu511 said...

i think this cummings expresses his fellings about how he thinks that it's so
not fair to nature because of all the things human done that has destroyed
the ecosystem and stuff. He's maybe confessing the sins of man or something.
That's what i think anyways.

South Woods M.S. NY

David Allenspach said...

I disagree with Maryann, the poem reflects on the anthropocentricism that is manifest in human relationship to science. "[M]anunkind" then is Cummings satirical reference to the ironic nomenclature designed by humans for humans. "Progress is a comfortable disease," alludes to the seemingly parasitic or strong memetic nature of progress. Death and life are safely beyond because of this disease, death never is a worry due to the Red Queen effect, life is safely beyond because no one truly lives when thus inflicted. The next stanza refers to the invention of the electron microscope, and refers the utter smallness of human life life which we blow out of proportion with science and the aformentioned anthropocentricism. The stanza after this is in allusion to Plato's theory of mankinds 'random swerve" freedom in this determinate world. The following two stanzas then offer a naturalist view on the mankind's indifference to natural beauty and its idolatry of itself. The final stanza gives Cummings' personal view of mankind as just that, "a hopeless case," and his wish to escape.

Lestatkatt said...

dr. atomik's cryptic ensemble
studio demo track
recorded 1/28/95 in phila. pa.
taken from the master dat. let me know what you think!

1. Pity this busy monster man unkind 8:20
words by e.e. cummings

michael 'lestatkat' on piano
rich hill on guitar and vocals
chris adams on guitar and vocals
greg mcbride on bass
scott hoffman on drums

Attachment: lestatkatt\'s old band - 1 studio demo track.torrent
This has been downloaded 0 time(s).

My old band recorded this back in 1995. i only recently become aware of
e.e. cummings and i thought i would share this with you.
this is a studio recording, but was never released or given away, until now.
since this band no longer exists, i thought i would share this song with you.
the music is original. we used to play this song for about 2 years at most of
our local philly shows.

dave connors said...

I think all of are completely wrong he is warning us of nuclear war when he say electron... mountains he is talking about a nuclear explosion and ends it by saying we destroyed the world and we will move onto the next one

Calonje said...

Victor Bodega:

This poem is truthful and it service justice to all those scientist who think the world needs technology. Meanwhile while they are diminishing the animals from there homes and spending million of dollars, here in my neighborhood all kids need is better books and better recreational activities.How much can that cost you? Yo this poem is hot and the message behind I feel represents the ignorance of those humans that father money and power. This is one hell of a poem. I'm out and remember it's always one love, one life and definitely one god.Keeping it Hip hop. Adios mi gente.2005

Peter Heggestuen said...

what he is saying is that the advances of science do nothing "lenses extend unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish returns on its unself." this advances do not change any thing. the world is no better than what it was before.
the universe next door is nature, it is time to ditch the cities, because nature is a hell of a good universe after all.


This poem is particularly timely in view of the mess we have made of the
environment, particularly our atmosphere. We have fallen in love with our own
technological ability and lost touch with the spiritual connection with nature
that sustained us over thousands of years and are totally relying on our own
abilities. There is a stiff penalty for doing this as we are starting to
find out.

Anonymous said...

I first read the second phrase of this poem in my teens (more than 40 years ago) and at that time I found it astonishing. The atmosphere, the use of language, the vision. It still gets to me.
At that time I translated it into the Dutch language and published it in our school magazine. I have always remembered it and could qoute the phrase by heart (in Dutch).

Untill today, when I started looking for the writer and the original text, I did not know that there even was a first phrase before the one I translated.

It makes it even more astonishing and visionary (of course), although I like the 2nd phrase in and on itself stil best.

J. Pallada, The Netherlands

Penis Enlargement Pills said...

I am thoroughly convinced in this said post. I am currently searching for ways in which I could enhance my knowledge in this said topic you have posted here. It does help me a lot knowing that you have shared this information here freely. I love the way the people here interact and shared their opinions too. I would love to track your future posts pertaining to the said topic we are able to read.

Baby Clothes said...

I am really impressed with your content, it is really a great stuff that you have been shared over here. It is really a delightful to reading for me.

International Flights said...

This poem is truly amazing and i am so glad to read this content you have described really heart touchy words over here,

Cheap Flights to Thailand said...

Though this is superficially similar to the Whitman poem, there is a significant difference, which is described by you over here. so thanks a lot for these information.

DM500 said...

Though this is superficially similar to the Whitman poem, there is little difference but meaning is same. I am pleased to read this poetry over here.

saim said...

Hey its been really a very good and informative post to read on. I will keep these points in my mind from now onwards, hope will not commit mistakes

natural minerals
best naturals
buy curcumin

Android App Seamless said...

If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.

Anonymous said...

House Extension Perth 

Hi Matsuo. I don't but I find this poem very funny and cute, Manunkind must be a cute little monster.

replica medals said...

Hello. I can truly relate with this poem. I so like your choice of words. So dramatic.

Space Matters Real Estates said...

Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return. Plots for sale in Hyderabad
Plots for sale in Banjara Hills
Plots for sale in Jubilee Hills
Plots for sale in Manikonda
Plots for sale in Madhapur
Plots for sale in kondapur
Plots for sale in Gachibowli
Plots for sale in Kukatpally

Anonymous said...

Hi friends, its wonderful piece of writing regarding cultureand completely explained,
keep it up all the time.
Here is my site : commit

Anonymous said...

We stumbled over here different website and thought
I might as well check things out. I like what I see so
now i'm following you. Look forward to looking over your web page again.

Feel free to surf to my website: film photo scanner

Anonymous said...

Hellο! This poѕt сοuld not be written any betteг!

Reading through this ρost reminԁѕ mе of my ρгevious rοom mate!
He аlways kept talking about this. I will forwaгd thіs
write-up to hіm. Fairly ceгtain he ωill have а good rеad.
Thank you fοr sharing!

Αlѕo νіsit mу page :: raspberry ketone uk

Anonymous said...

Yοur ѕtylе is so unique in comparison to οther folks Ι have rеаd stuff from.

Many thаnκs foг poѕting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this page.

my blog -

Anonymous said...

Superb webѕite you have here but I waѕ curious if
yοu knew of any foгums that сοver the sаmе tοpics discuѕsed heге?
I'd really love to be a part of group where I can get feed-back from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Appreciate it!

Look at my homepage vistaprint coupons

Anonymous said...

Post writing is also a fun, if you know afterward you can write if not it is complex to write.

My blog; vakantiehuizen

Anonymous said...

Excellent beat ! I wish to apprentice whilst you amend your website,
how can i subscribe for a weblog web site? The account
helped me a appropriate deal. I were tiny bit familiar of this
your broadcast provided vivid transparent idea

Anonymous said...

Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She
put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab
inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!

LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

Also visit my page luxe vakantiewoningen frankrijk

Anonymous said...

I every time spent my half an hour to read this weblog's articles every day along with a cup of coffee.

Look into my web blog :: vakantiehuisje frankrijk ()

Anonymous said...

I think the admin of this site is really working hard for his site,
since here every data is quality based data.

Here is my blog post: vakantiehuisjes frankrijk

anita said...

thanks for share friend

Unknown said...

I enjoyed every little bit part of it and I will be waiting for the new updates.Really loved reading your we blog post. The information was very informative and helpful.
Plastic Flow Meter

Unknown said...

I am glad to land on your page. I have learned a lot about creativity and art. I am looking forward for more updates
Truflo paddle wheel flow meters

polo outlet said...

Anonymous said...

Hi there, yup this post is in fact nice and I have learned lot of things from it on the topic of blogging.

Also visit my webpage; little alchemist hack (

Unknown said...

The article posted was very informative and useful. You people are doing a great job. Electrical Electronic Products Components | Electronic Research And Development | Keep going.

dewi said...

The blog was absolutely fantastic! Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need!b Keep ‘em coming… you all do such a great job at such Concepts… can’t tell you how much I, for one appreciate all you do!
Ijen Crater Tourism
travel guide
industrial vision
Car Modelling Customization
Prepare With the Ability
kumpulan info trend baju
update informasi terbaru
kumpulan informasi terkini
Overland Tours in Indonesia
kumpulan info terkini
penghargaan itats

Unknown said...

Nice Post, Thanks for your very useful information... I will bookmark for next reference

Obat kuat said...

Berikut kami akan membahas tentang bagai mana cara memperbesar penis dengan hasil cepat dan aman tanpa operasi

jika anda ingin memperbesar penis dengan hasil cepat,aman tanpa operasi itu mudah anda bisa pilih cara memperbesar penis dengan salah satu obat pembesar penis herbal seperti Neosize xl | obat Vimax | Vigrx Plus original

jika anda riskan konsumsi obat pembesar penis anda bisa pilih jalan lain seperti metode trapi ( pemakaian luar ) kami juga punya solusinya anda harus punya alat pembesar penis sejenis vacum penis atau Vimax Extender dan Pro Extender

Berikut penjelasan kami :

Apa Neosize Xl itu : Neosize Xl

Apa Vimax Asli itu : Vimax Asli Canada

Apa Vigrx Plus itu : Vigrx Plus

Apa Vacum Penis Itu : Vacum Penis

Apa Vimax Extender itu : Vimax Extender Asli

Apa Pro Extender itu : Pro Extender

Sekarang anda bisa tau rahasia cara memperbesar penis dengan aman tanpa operasi.selamat mencoba.

Obat pembesar penis said...

kini kami akan bahas tentang kesehatan dan kecantikan perawatan tubuh maupun pengobatan secara alami :

Berikut : obat peninggi badan

Berikut : obat pembesar payudara

Berikut : cara merontokan bulu permanen

Berikut : obat pelangsing badan

Berikut : cara sehat alami

Berikut : cara mempercantik wajah dan tubuh

Berikut : obat penggemuk badan

Berikut : cara mengobati ejakulasi dini

Berikut : Obat penyubur seperma

Berikut : penis bendera

Berikut : Alat Pembesar Payudara

Berikut : Viagra

Berikut : perangsang wanita

Berikut : alat bantu sex pria

Berikut : alat bantu sex wanita

Berikut : boneka full body

Berikut : Cara memperbesar penis

Berikut : Oil pembesar penis

Berikut : Celana Hernia

Berikut : vimax original

Berikut : ciri vimax asli

Berikut : Obat Kuat Sex Pria


Anonymous said...

Vitamin telah diketahui tidak berguna untuk mencegah kanker, walaupun tingkat yang rendah dari vitamin D berhubungan dengan peningkatan resiko kanker. Apakah ini merupakan sebab akibat dan suplemen vitamin D bersifat melindungi tidak pernah dinyatakan. Suplemen Beta-Carotene telah diketahui meningkatkan kanker paru-paru pada mereka yang beresiko tinggi. Asam folat telah diketahui tidak berguna untuk mencegah kanker usus, bahkan justru menuingkatkan terjadinya polip pada usus besar. Tidak jelas apakah suplemen selenium mempunyai efek pengobatan/pencegahan. selain itu, seiring dengan perkembangan jaman, kini pengobatan penyakit ini sudah banyak di lakukan secara herbal, salah satunya dengan menggunakan produk ziirzax dan typhogell, dan untuk info lebih lengkap, silahkan baca spesifikasi produk obat kanker ziirzax dan typhogell.

Anonymous said...

Seberat apapun beban masalah yang kamu hadapi saat ini, percayalah bahwa semua itu tidak pernah melebihi batas kemampuan kamu.

Post a Comment