somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
by E. E. Cummings
Stanza 4 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
- As if the speaker hadn't already made it clear that his lover has a lot of power over him, he takes it a step further here.
- Not only is she just as powerful as nature itself, he now says that her powers are beyond anything that we can even conceive of existing on earth. It's like he's saying that she's God, or the Universe, or whatever supreme being or energy flow he believes in.
- What's cool here is that it's her "intense fragility" that makes her so powerful. Usually, we equate fragility with weakness, but here it's the lover's fragility that attracts the speaker to her, which ironically gives her so much power over him.
- This is the second time a version of the word "fragile" comes up in the poem. Remember, we heard about her "fragile gesture" in 1.3?
- The word is kind of transformed here, though. It goes from an adjective ("fragile") describing a noun ("gesture"), to a noun in its own right ("fragility"). In fact, it even gets its own adjective this time: "intense."
- It's like the speaker is pulling out all the stops to let his lover know just how important this facet of her personality is to him.
- The word "fragility" sticks out even more because Cummings pulls another one of his squishy word tricks: "fragility:whose texture."
- Taking the space after the colon away highlights the fact that Cummings has chosen to use the word "whose." You could interpret this as implying that the fragility is a living breathing being all on her own.
- We should also point out that Cummings is using the colon in kind of a weird way here. If you were worried about proper grammar—which Cummings clearly wasn't—there'd be a comma here.
- When he squishes words together earlier in the poem, he leaves a comma between them, but now it's a colon.
- Hmm. Usually, a colon comes before a list or an explanation of some kind. Could it be that the next couple of lines are intended to be thought of as an explanation of this all-powerful fragility?
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
- We continue hearing about the all-powerful fragility with this cryptic line, in which the speaker says that he's compelled by "the color of its countries."
- Now, some might say that Cummings chose these words just because he thought the alliteration would be fun.
- You've got three words starting with the same hard C sound: "compels," "color," and "countries."
- However, the idea of colorful countries seems to totally fit in the poem to us, because it makes us think of distant, exotic lands.
- And this whole thing started out as journey into the unknown, right?
- The stanza ends with a line that once more makes the lover sound like a full-out goddess.
- Anybody who can "render death and forever with each breathing" is not to be messed with.
- This divine lady has control over life, death, and whatever comes after.
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