Study Guide

All in green went my love riding Love

By E.E. Cummings

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It's almost too easy. A poem that practically glistens with adjectives describing the shininess, the golden purity of the speaker's love is going to head in one of two directions: either it turns into an encomium—a big heaping dose of praise—or… well, things are going to turn ugly fast. Sadly, in the case of "All in green," it's the latter. This isn't a Cinderella story. If anything, it's more like Romeo and Juliet. And we're as shocked (shocked, we tell you), much as the speaker seems to be, when the thing that gets hit at the end of the hunt is, well, his "heart." Is getting struck by love's arrow a good thing or a bad thing? That's awfully hard to tell here. Judging from the way the adjectives in the poem move from being pretty to being violent and "cruel," we're a bit concerned. But then again, all love is a gamble, isn't it? And the metaphor suggests precisely this gamble—and the heart-piercing danger that it might create.

Questions About Love

  1. Why does the speaker always refer to the rider as "my love"? How does this relate to the "heart" that falls at the end? 
  2. Why do you think that the descriptions of the speaker's "love" always start with a description of his accessories?
  3. How would this poem be different if the speaker referred to his love by name? 
  4. Do you think the speaker falls in love at the end of the poem (shot by Cupid's arrow), or out of love (shot by an angry lover)? Why?

Chew on This

The speaker doesn't realize how close he is to his lover until she slays his heart at the end of the poem. We're talkin' point blank range.

The speaker idealizes his lover, but is slightly terrified of her by the end of the poem—you know, what with the weaponry and all.

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