Study Guide

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

By E. E. Cummings

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] Introduction

We know you've been searching for the love poem to end all love poems, right? Or maybe your significant other has been waiting patiently for you to whisper some sweet nothings into their ear. Either way, Shmoop's got you covered today with one of the most talked-about love poems of all modern times.

"[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]," first published in 1952, might be a pain in the neck to cite for a paper, but it's bound to give you a butterfly or two in your tummy nonetheless. How could someone telling you, "i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)," not give you a little flutter? And even if you're the type to roll your eyes at all the love mumbo-jumbo, you probably still gave that title a second look, right? So between the butterflies and the second look you might be feeling the least bit curious about this Cummings fellow, who's kind of the precursor for the digital text age.

That's right. Before cell phones became everyone's excuse for not using proper grammar and punctuation, E. E. Cummings was thumbing his nose at linguists and all their fancy rules. That's not to say he didn't know the rules (he was a Harvard grad) but he was interested in messing around with them and pushing the boundaries of our imaginations. In doing so, he became the epitome of the modern poet who was a linguistic rebel with a romantic soft spot for topics having to do with love and nature.

So what we get in this poem is probably the most written-about topic in poetry (love), nestled in some highly experimental syntax and punctuation. We also get to look at love in a very different kind of way that both looks and sounds unique as it grows "higher than soul can hope or mind can hide." So even if you don't give a hoot for the topic, you'll notice the trail Cummings has largely blazed all by himself. And who doesn't like a good trailblazer?

What is [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] About and Why Should I Care?

Besides having another love poem in your arsenal of go-to relationship savers, E. E. Cummings's work will likely make you see the world (and love) a little differently. As noted by a critic, Cummings has this effect of "jarring the reader, of forcing him to examine experience with fresh eyes." In other words, all the experimental stuff functions as a sort of sledgehammer to all the "normal" stuff you've worked so hard at keeping stored up in your brain. And we'd all like an excuse to use a sledgehammer now and then, right?

So what better way to do so than with "[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]"? Seriously, even typing the title in a different way never seems to get old. With all these different things, you might even find yourself bursting out into some Aladdin tunes. It's a whole new world of linguistic wonder, romantic splendor, and opportunities to tell your English teacher that it's okay to use only lowercase type because Cummings did it too. (Fair warning though: your teacher will likely tell you you'd better get yourself a diploma first and some publishing credentials to back up your avant-garde practices.)

With all the melting of your lover's heart, the fresh eyes you'll get to put on for a minute, and the fact that Cummings says a lot in only 15 lines, we're guessing this poem will feel as rejuvenating as a spring breeze. So breathe deep, and dive in.

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] Resources

Websites

Cummings on Poets.org
Read all about our man here and check out some more classic Cummings poems.

One-Stop Cummings Shop
Here's everything you would ever want to know about the life, career, and paintings of E. E. Cummings.

The Enormous Room
Cummings wrote this autobiographical novel when he was imprisoned in France during World War I.

Video

A Bit Cheesy
We know it is, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a reading of "[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]" that's not cheesy.

High School Students and Cummings
Here's a Poetry Out Loud reading of our favorite poem.

Heath Ledger and Candy
Even the Joker reads Cummings like a champ in the film Candy.

Cameron Diaz and In Her Shoes
Here's another appearance of the poem on the big screen.

Audio

A Less Cheesy Reading
Here's a less dramatic reading of the poem.

Another Version
This one seems more serious. Maybe it's the English accent.

Images

Dreamy Cummings
Our man always looked like something of a dreamer.

The Poem in a Heart
It looks pretty cool when it's placed in a decorative heart.

Articles and Interviews

The Rebellious Cummings
Harvard Magazine writes all about the rebellious poet and his alma mater.

Is That a Poem?
Slate Magazine asks this highly contested question when it comes to Cummings's work.

Books

Bloom's Major Poets
Harold Bloom tackles E. E. Cummings in this comprehensive study guide.

100 Selected Poems
Take a gander at all the different ways Cummings revolutionized modern poetry.