Study Guide

All in green went my love riding Setting

By E.E. Cummings

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Let's see: trees, peaks, valleys—it looks like we're taking off on a nature walk, kids. More specifically, we're on the trail of some elusive deer, so we'll be hiking through forests and up and down mountains. Oh, but this isn't just any old mountain-and-forest scape. It's chock-full of color. See all the "green" and "gold" and "silver" in lines one and two? And that's just the first stanza. Yup, our mountain is the pristine, sun-covered valleys and gorgeous peaks of The Lord of the Rings. We're in that land Full of Nature that cameras could pan over for days.

One of the reasons that this landscape seems so untainted is that there doesn't seem to be much of a human footprint on the landscape. Sure, we're riding on a hunt, but the ground our hunter covers is not the delimited space of a fenced-in farm or even something as big as a national park. Nope—this is Nature with a capital N.

As the poem unfolds, the landscape just seems to roll on and on before our eyes. That's largely because the poem's meter and alliteration pulls our eyes along the page just as the hunter rides through the hills and valleys in pursuit of deer. Check out the way that the landscape actually seems to move in lines 22-23: the speaker goes "riding the mountain down / into the silver dawn." The poem's landscape seems to move as smoothly as it does when you see the world from the side window of a car.

Of course, there's another setting here, too—one that we only figure out at the very, very… very end of the poem. It's the speaker's mind. In fact, it's all in his mind. The whole shebang—mountains and lakes and meadows and deer and dogs and horses and horns—are all part of a very elaborate metaphor for falling in love. Sure, it might seem excessive, but then, what lover isn't a bit over the top? And we think a majestic, wondrous naturescape makes for a great place to get your heart shot out by your lover. Aww.

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