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in Just-

in Just-

by E.E. Cummings

Language and Communication Theme

"in Just-" doesn’t just lie on the page. It dances itself out, stretching into blank spaces and squeezing together in energetic word-clusters. Sure, it’s about language – but it’s also about the way that words can communicate themselves to the eye. What does a line that one contains one word look when it’s next to lines full of text? As we realize, the way a poem looks can affect the way we hear it, as well. How does blank space sound? Do we pause whenever we get to a line break? Cummings teases his readers into thinking through formal problems that are quite a bit more complex than they might first appear.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. Are the final stanzas an example of language breaking down? Why or why not?
  2. Why is the balloonman’s whistling described as being "far and wee?" What does this mean to you?
  3. How does the lack of punctuation affect your reading of the poem?
  4. Is there a logic behind the line spacing? Why aren’t the same lines always laid out on the page in the same way? How does this change your reading of the lines?

Chew on This

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

The visual layout of this poem conveys more about its content than the actual words do.

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