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To Go
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
by E. E. Cummings

Sound Check

Read this poem aloud. What do you hear?

The speaker takes us on kind of a trippy journey into the eyes of his love. These eyes are deep, too—like portals into new dimensions. Our journey isn't fast; we sail slowly with the speaker, like we're on the weirdest Tunnel of Love ride at the most surreal carnival that ever came to town. Yeah, the basic speed of our journey is slow. Cummings occasionally speeds it up for a sec by blending words together like "travelled,gladly" (1) and "skilfully,mysteriously" (8). As we hit warp drive for a moment, we can almost feel reality blurring around us as we head deeper into uncharted territory.

This trek deep into the mysteries of the universe—and the human heart—is helped by Cummings's constant use of the long O sound. It reminds us a whole lot of the "omm" sound people make when they're meditating. We also talk about the use of this sound in "Form and Meter," but throughout the poem, Cummings rhymes words like "enclose" (1.3), "unclose" (2.5), and "rose" (2.8). He also connects it all with assonance by using "open" and "opens" (2.7). So, all the way through our journey, we hear the meditative "ohh" sound, which is also a subtle sonic reminder of the sense of awe in our speaker, too. When's the last time you had a totally awesome experience? We bet that the "Oh" sound (as in, "Oh, wow!") featured prominently, just as it does in the sound of this poem.

(Note: if you listen to this recording of Cummings himself reading the poem, you can really hear the rhymes and the poet's own emphasis on sound.)

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