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.
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."
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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