Study Guide

anyone who lived in a pretty how town Man and the Natural World

By Edward Estlin Cummings

Man and the Natural World

When Cummings talks about love and death in "[anyone lived in a pretty how town]," he always weaves these themes together with the theme of nature. The reason he does this is because he wants to remind us how interconnected these things are in our everyday lives. Yes, we live and die, and we try to love each other as best we can while we're alive. But this is all taking place while day turns to night and the seasons change. Our lives are intimately connected to the cycles of nature and we should see this as a good thing because it means we never have to feel alone. We're all part of these much bigger processes. It doesn't mean we're not significant. It just means we're part of something.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Do you buy the direct connection Cummings makes between nature, love, and death? Why or why not?
  2. Does Cummings' view of nature fit neatly with yours, or does it make you think twice about your views? Why?
  3. What do each of the seasons symbolize in this poem?

Chew on This

In this poem, E.E. Cummings reminds us of the limits of a human-centered view of the world.

Cummings thinks that, at the end of the day, nature will wipe away all traces of human existence. Bummer.

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