in Just-
in Just-
by E.E. Cummings

in Just-: Rhyme, Form & Meter

We’ll show you the poem’s blueprints, and we’ll listen for the music behind the words.

Free! FREE!

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room here: this poem is all over the place. Literally. Check out the lines on this guy! With all those free spaces between words and all those tabbed-in lines, it’s like a poem written with the space bar glued down.

Amidst all this chaos, however, there is a tiny bit of order – or at least the semblance of order. There are "stanzas" of four lines followed by a "refrain" of one line. Of course, the "stanzas" don’t really make complete units in and of themselves. In fact, they’re not really stanzas. They just look like stanzas. Gotcha! Cummings delights in playing conventional forms (and conventional ideas about poetics) against radically innovative new tricks.

We don’t want to bore you, but we’re going talk a little technical shop here. After all, this is a poem. It’s got rhythm. In particular, lines 14 and 15 (like the lines with "eddieandbill") have a pronounced rhythm. When you speak the lines aloud, they have naturally accented syllables. Check it out:
"and-be-tty-and-is-bel-come-dan-cing
from-hop-scotch-and-jump-rope"

There’s one accented syllable followed by two unaccented syllables. We’ll give that to you in numbers: ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three. If you’ve ever heard a waltz, that rhythm will sound familiar. It’s a rocking, swaying, dancing kind of rhythm. It’s easy to imagine the little girls skipping and twirling as they come running.

Then again, lines like "it’s/ spring" are, well, short lines. Each has one word. Each world has one syllable. Both words are accented. (Try saying "It’s Spring!" without emphasizing both words. It’s pretty impossible. Believe us. We spent hours trying.) In other words, this poem is a pretty big grab bag. Just buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Next Page: Speaker
Previous Page: Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Need help with College?