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Intro

In A Nutshell

We know you've been searching for the love poem to end all love poems, right? Or maybe your significant other has been waiting patiently for you to whisper some sweet nothings into their ear. Either way, Shmoop's got you covered today with one of the most talked-about love poems of all modern times.

"[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]," first published in 1952, might be a pain in the neck to cite for a paper, but it's bound to give you a butterfly or two in your tummy nonetheless. How could someone telling you, "i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)," not give you a little flutter? And even if you're the type to roll your eyes at all the love mumbo-jumbo, you probably still gave that title a second look, right? So between the butterflies and the second look you might be feeling the least bit curious about this Cummings fellow, who's kind of the precursor for the digital text age.

That's right. Before cell phones became everyone's excuse for not using proper grammar and punctuation, E. E. Cummings was thumbing his nose at linguists and all their fancy rules. That's not to say he didn't know the rules (he was a Harvard grad) but he was interested in messing around with them and pushing the boundaries of our imaginations. In doing so, he became the epitome of the modern poet who was a linguistic rebel with a romantic soft spot for topics having to do with love and nature.

So what we get in this poem is probably the most written-about topic in poetry (love), nestled in some highly experimental syntax and punctuation. We also get to look at love in a very different kind of way that both looks and sounds unique as it grows "higher than soul can hope or mind can hide." So even if you don't give a hoot for the topic, you'll notice the trail Cummings has largely blazed all by himself. And who doesn't like a good trailblazer?

 

Why Should I Care?

Besides having another love poem in your arsenal of go-to relationship savers, E. E. Cummings's work will likely make you see the world (and love) a little differently. As noted by a critic, Cummings has this effect of "jarring the reader, of forcing him to examine experience with fresh eyes." In other words, all the experimental stuff functions as a sort of sledgehammer to all the "normal" stuff you've worked so hard at keeping stored up in your brain. And we'd all like an excuse to use a sledgehammer now and then, right?

So what better way to do so than with "[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]"? Seriously, even typing the title in a different way never seems to get old. With all these different things, you might even find yourself bursting out into some Aladdin tunes. It's a whole new world of linguistic wonder, romantic splendor, and opportunities to tell your English teacher that it's okay to use only lowercase type because Cummings did it too. (Fair warning though: your teacher will likely tell you you'd better get yourself a diploma first and some publishing credentials to back up your avant-garde practices.)

With all the melting of your lover's heart, the fresh eyes you'll get to put on for a minute, and the fact that Cummings says a lot in only 15 lines, we're guessing this poem will feel as rejuvenating as a spring breeze. So breathe deep, and dive in.

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