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somewhere i have never travelled -- e e cummings

A most unusual occurrence: a guest poem suggested (independently) by no less
than three different readers - Devyani Saltzman, Raj Palaniswamyand Erin Cheatham. Reading the
poem, it's not hard to see why...
(Poem #619) somewhere i have never travelled
 somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
 any experience, your eyes have their silence:
 in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
 or which i cannot touch because they are too near

 your slightest look easily will unclose me
 though i have closed myself as fingers,
 you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
 (touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

 or if your wish be to close me, i and
 my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
 as when the heart of this flower imagines
 the snow carefully everywhere descending;

 nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
 the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
 compels me with the colour of its countries,
 rendering death and forever with each breathing

 (i do not know what it is about you that closes
 and opens; only something in me understands
 the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
 nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands
-- e e cummings
1931.

I don't know anything about the story behind this poem, but I feel it's one
of the most beautiful love poems I've ever read. Whenever I read it, I'm
constantly blown away by the tenderness expressed through his use of
language. It's almost as if one can feel the lightness of the caress between
these two people. One of my favourite lines has just this effect:
        "you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
        (touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose"
The poem almost 'breathes', for all its detail and the analogy of the rose,
there is so much room to imagine between the lines. However many times I
read it the poem takes on new tones and meanings. It's limitless.

Devyani.

64 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

annalou apao said...

the first time i hear this poem was on a radio..
the voice was so deep that i could never stop hearing it, as i listen to the poem i was moved by it..
the poem was really amazing that from then on i could not stop myself from looking for a copy of it..or maybe i was just too caught up with the idea of "PERFECT LOVE"..
every time i hear the poem i always find new meaning to every line and now i begun to memorized it hehe..
for the author thanks so much cause this poem really moves me in so many ways,in ways i could never figure out..thanks so much..:)

anna

ieda said...

A brazilian composer, called Zeca Baleiro, have made a beautiful song of this very beautiful poem. The only bad thing it's the song is performed in portuguese (but the translation is perfect, literal).

Susan Perkins said...

To me, these are the musings of a man in love, a man who lies awake next to his love as she sleeps, and watching her breathe finds he awake and smiling staring back at him....

He muses later in front of the mirror, shaving, he muses as he walks into his work.....he concludes when he holds he again, breathing deep the warmth and the musk of her hair, as he draws her near once again..

This is the place we seek when we are seeking love

perfectly captured in words...

Teri Cosentino said...

This poem is so perfect that it is almost painful. The eloquent descriptions
speak to the depth and fullness of love and hope. Thank you for reminding
me.

Teri

SilvestriErnie said...

Can someone please explain the last line of this poem?

<PRE>

Nariman Romanda said...

how could i forget such poem? i won a silver medal for this as a poetry
reader
in our university. thanks so much for the author. one thing i know that
made
me won during the contest was because of the message of the poem.
it inspired and stil inspires me just like how nicholas sparks do
to my emotions.

Anonymous said...

As to the last line of this poems, it has many different interpretations.

To me, this whole poem is very gentle and speaks of someone in love with the simplest of gestures. If you think of it, the way rain falls on your skin, its like its touching you. I find he's imagining the rain to have hands, and even such a light touch does not measure up to the love for his muse's every action.

Anonymous said...

I think Brandon read this to Kelly

Ethan said...

My understanding-

The speaker analogizes himself to a rose and his lover can, like the seasons, "open" or "close" him (to love or romantic emotion perhaps) as the petals on a rose will open and close. She can do this with the most minor of gestures--even a look.

He does not understand what it is about her that is able to do this to him. He is in unfamiliar territory, and her eyes are "silent" to this mystery.

The last two stanzas flip the analogy around, depending on how you read it, and he sees her as a rose. (Is she still the one "closing" and "opening" him in that last stanza, or is she herself now "opening" and "closing"?)

The rose is a very common symbol in poetry and is usually associated with mortality because of its fragile and transitory nature. Interesting to note with this poem the speaker says it renders both death AND "forever".

As for the last line, I imagine a fist clinched so tight that not even the rain that is pouring over it can find its way into the center. Then I imagine a pair of delicate female hands slowly and carefully opening it one finger at a time.... To me that is a powerful image and makes the poem one of my favorites.

Anonymous said...

I heard this poem in the Woody Allen movie "Hannah and Her Sisters" and wow, I couldn't believe it. The last stanza... oh my. I almost cried.

vib said...

when i read and heard about the title of the poem something struck...i got carried away by the title "somewhere i have never traveled"...it's a form of curiosity that i can't explain...though the poem is about love i also quoted it as an example of dreaming for something more necessary and important to do...

Anonymous said...

I so agree that this is not only one of the most perfect and beautiful love poems. For me it is the only love poem that has ever really affected me. It is at once deeply personal and yet somehow universally understandable.

I can't understand the way people feel the need to criticize cummings, and indeed modernism in general, for supposedly 'breaking the rules for the sake of it'. It seems so bizarre to refuse to open one's mind for the sake of tradition, to miss out on so many beautiful creations for the sake of a strange and old principle. I find 'nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands' such an incredible line...the first time i read it i understood exactly what this means, and yet it is impossible to express in any other way...in that way, cummings has, for me, captured the essence of love in so far as it can be expressed in words.

I feel this poem is pretty close to a perfect poem, if that exists. I wrote about it in a school english exam but i somehow regretted it, like i couldn't bear to analyse something which seemed to affect me in a way beyond explanation.

Thank you for reminding me of this beautiful poem.

Anonymous said...

a very beautiful and touching poem.i believe it was used in the movie Beauty and the Beast?the song 'The first time i loved forever' as the OST..i love that song.Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

cath

i just heard this poem from a music video of "the first time i loved forever"... and it was beautifully recited in a very low fascinating voice, i can't help but to search for this poem. bravo!!! love emerges and grows deeper in every line...

Anonymous said...

Whenever I read this poem, I can't help think of forbidden love for some reason. Like he wants to get close to someone but is afraid to ruin something already between them, perhaps a friendship.

I'm not the kind of person who's into romantic movies and love poems, but this poem is so magnificent that it seems to captivate me.

Anonymous said...

I am only 13 but i love e.e.cummings work he has a very unquie style in his writing

Hannah Harris

mae castillo said...

the only poem that i've memorized. thanx to e.e. cummings for this poem. i got an A grade. such a beautiful poem.

Anonymous said...

Beauty in its many forms has the power to give me goose bumps; it is an involuntary reaction that occurs, I can not control it. This poem has this power over me. It is lovely and tender. It is gentle and kind. It is breath-takingly honest. Imagine, if you dare, what it must be like to be loved like that.

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Anonymous said...

I know that La Dispute (the band) has two songs, one of the songs' title is Nobody, Not Even the Rain, and the other song's title is Such Small Hands. And I know that these titles are a reference to this poem; these songs are a reference to this poem. So I was wondering if anyone could please explain to me the connection between the lyrics of those two songs by La Dispute and this poem by EE Cummings?

Thank you

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Tangerang said...

I'm not sure I get the message of the poem.

HRD

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