Study Guide

All in green went my love riding Sound Check

By E.E. Cummings

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Sound Check

This poem reads like something that a bard would read aloud at Ye Olde Renaissance Faire—you know, the kind with big turkey legs and jousting tournaments. All of those inverted phrases make the poem sound antiquated and, well, mythic. This is exactly what all of the alliterative phrases contribute to, as well. The use of alliteration was a big factor in oral poetry (check out our breakdown of Beowulf, for example), mostly because it made descriptions easy to remember for the bard who was reciting something from memory. (For the run-down on alliteration in this poem, check out "Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay.")

Repetition helps, too, making the poem seem overly simple in its phrases and perhaps, by the end, even like something that we've heard before (even if only a few lines earlier). But why use it in a poem that's obviously written for the page? Well, Cummings knows that this technique will makes the poem sound mythic in order to make the most over-the-top experience of all (love) seem mythic as well. On a sonic level, Cummings breaking out some time travel for our ears, whisking us away to a place long ago, when myths held sway and men tried to hunt goddesses—but, you know, tended to epically fail.

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