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if everything happens that can't be done

if everything happens that can't be done

by E.E. Cummings

Man vs. the Natural World Theme

Nature reigns supreme over book learning in "if everything happens that can't be done." Birds and buds both have qualities that books simply can't match. The poem talks about teachers, about being indoors, but it's most dominated by the type of language and actions – running, leaping, flying – you'd find outdoors during, say, recess. The world, especially the natural world, becomes an amazing, joyous place in this poem, and it's the perfect place to fall in love.

Questions About Man vs. the Natural World

  1. How does the speaker describe nature in relation to books? What's the main difference between the two?
  2. Do you feel the same way about nature as you think the speaker does? Why or why not?
  3. What is it about nature that makes it better than books? What, in the poem, tells you?
  4. Does nature have something to do with love in this poem? How do you know?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Nature, in this poem, is presented as superior to books in terms of learning because nature gets closer to the truth of things.

Nature is used in this poem to express the exhilaration of love, because nature is full of the life and joy that a person feels when he is in love.

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