Study Guide

All in green went my love riding Speaker

By E.E. Cummings

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It's not too often that a speaker seems to be relating a series of events as our narrator watches his love go off on a morning hunt only to reveal at the very, very end that the poem is actually about… the speaker as the prey. So why all this pretense of detachment? Why does he seem to be watching the scene through binoculars, when he's really getting run down by love? Funnily enough, since the speaker doesn't introduce himself into the poem at all, we don't have much evidence to draw many conclusions.

All that we do know is that the speaker is sure caught up in thinking about his "love." And she's one bad mama jamma, so it makes sense. Who wouldn't want to think about a gal who goes out riding in the early morning? Our speaker sure thinks so, at any rate.

Once we get to the end of the poem, we realize that our speaker is pretty linguistically dexterous. The whole poem turns upon a pun, one that the speaker is building up rather craftily right from the very beginning. The speaker thinks about the heart as a "hart"—a deer—and the entire poem springs from that metaphor. He invents an entire scene in which deer (or harts) get chased by a clever huntress. Then the deer (or, um, his heart) is captured—by love. All of the elaborate imaginings, the green meadows and the steep mountains, could be read as figments of a very, very love-struck imagination. All things considered, we'd have to say that the speaker's been one step ahead of us the entire time.

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