Study Guide

anyone who lived in a pretty how town Sound Check

By Edward Estlin Cummings

Sound Check

Weird and Hypnotic

You don't have to listen very hard to realize that there's something unique about the sound of E.E. Cummings' poetry. Just read "anyone lived in a pretty how town" alongside some of his other works and you'll realize that his stuff sounds a lot like a Dr. Seuss book, right down to the fact that it's describing the people who live in a pretty town. You'll also notice that when you read his stuff out loud, there's something weirdly hypnotic about the way Cummings positions his words on the page. In many cases, that's down to the funkiness of his syntax. Sentences are just not ordered as our English-speaking brains are accustomed to reading. At the same time, though, even the sounds of the lines themselves can hypnotize us. Just take some lines like: "anyone lived in a pretty how town with up so floating many bells down" (1-2). All those O sounds—both short and long—just make you want to slide into a hot bath.

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