Study Guide

All in green went my love riding Man and the Natural World

By E.E. Cummings

Man and the Natural World

The very crux of "All in green" is a linguistic substitution, or, in fancy English lit terms, a pun—and the pun happens to play upon the very relation between man and animal. Put another way, hunts are usually in search of male deer, or "harts." Instead, this hunt results in a "heart" that falls "dead" at the feet of the speaker's lover. Get it? Cummings turns a very conventional convention, the lover's chase, on its head through a slight shift in language. This, as it turns out, is a very early instance in which naturally-themed language play takes center stage in his poetry. This poem is saturated with language that appreciates the beauty of the natural world, and the humans who trample through it. As Pat Benatar says, love as a battlefield. This battlefield just happens to be a stunningly gorgeous, natural world.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Which does the speaker seem to like best: the dogs, the deer, or the rider? How can you tell?
  2. What adjectives does the speaker use to describe the land? How does the hunt interact with the land? 
  3. How would you describe the speaker's relationship to the character described as "my love"? How many lines of the poem describe animals? Humans? What do you make of the difference between the two?

Chew on This

Although the speaker introduces the rider as "my love," he's not exactly a people person. The poem's language seems to be more loving in its descriptions of the animals.

Violence is the natural order of the world, a fact that the speaker learns when a hunt for animals turns into the untimely death of the speaker's love. Bad times.

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