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somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond


by E. E. Cummings

Stanza 1 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 1-2

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence: 

  • In the first line of the poem, the speaker tells us he's off on a journey to a place he's never been. 
  • (Cool, a vacation—we hope there's a hot tub.) 
  • Apparently, the speaker is happy about his trip because he uses the word "gladly."
  • Did you notice that Cummings squishes "travelled" and "gladly" together without leaving a space after the comma? 
  • Yeah, it's not a typo. Cummings pulls these sorts of tricks all the time.
  • By squishing these words closer together visually, he kind of squishes the ideas they represent together too. 
  • So, it's like the happiness that this journey brings is a fundamental part it. 
  • (We imagine that there might even be some skipping involved... but we hope not.)
  • As we scoot down to the second line, we find ourselves in a jam—of sorts. More specifically, there's some enjambment, where the line from before feeds right over to this one. 
  • We now find out the speaker is going "gladly beyond any experience." (It sounds a little trippy if you ask us.) 
  • But where exactly is the speaker going and what crazy experiences is he expecting to have there? 
  • The speaker answers our burning questions by talking about how silent somebody's eyes are. 
  • Come again? Pardon us while we put on this thinking cap… 
  • Oh, wait, we get it now. This dude's not going on a physical journey at all. Instead, he's staring into somebody's eyes and disappearing into her soul. (We guess there's no hot tub.) 
  • All this talk about staring into eyes is starting to make us think that we're at the top of a love poem. 
  • What's the deal with him describing the eyes as "silent," though? Eyes can't talk, so aren't they all silent?
  • For some thoughts on that, check out the "Eyes" section in "Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay."

Lines 3-4

in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

  • Oh, yeah, this is a love poem, alright. 
  • Whoever's eyes this guy is staring into have a ton of power over him. 
  • All she's got to do is make a tiny little gesture, and he's completely under her control. This lady's magical love powers make the speaker feel all kinds of confused. 
  • He feels completely enclosed by them, but still can't seem to touch them because they're too close. 
  • So, how can you not touch something that's surrounding you on all sides? Could it mean that she's so close that she's a part of him?
  • Don't worry; it's okay if this makes your head hurt a little bit. It's just your standard Cummings-style paradox, which—to us at least—evokes the mysterious unknowable power of love. 
  • Read more on this in the "Touch" section in "Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay."

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