Study Guide

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

  • Love

    Well, duh. Of course "[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart]" is about love. But we're not talking about ruby cheeks and flowing hair. That stuff stays in the Renaissance where it belongs. Instead, Cummings focuses on the unity of love and how it connects not only these two lovers, but also the world at large.

    Questions About Love

    1. Why is this poem not your typical love poem? How does Cummings visually and contextually revolutionize the way we talk and think about love?
    2. How is the third stanza different from the rest of the poem in terms of its perspective on love? How does Cummings use punctuation to further the poem's theme of love and unity?
    3. How does the speaker's voice contribute to this theme of love? Does it sound like your typical lovesick puppy, or something different? Why do you think so?

    Chew on This

    Love isn't just about getting the girl in Cummings's poem, but rather is focused on the idea of unity and the world at large.

    Nice try, but let's flip that script. Even though the speaker refers to love unifying the world, the poem's focus is more about the love he carries within him at all times.

  • Language and Communication

    If we're talking about E. E. Cummings, you better believe we'll be dealing with some sort of issue with language and communication. "[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]" is no exception, even if it's more focused on the idea of love. But with all the squishing of words, parentheses, and the playing with language, we know Cummings is taking a poke at those linguists.

    Questions About Language and Communication

    1. How do we know from the very beginning that Cummings is looking to experiment with the way language and punctuation affect our reading of a poem?
    2. How does Cummings shock us into having "fresh eyes" for his poem? Does all the zany syntax and poetic form still shock us in the 21st century? 
    3. What's with the whole "it is, but it isn't" tactic Cummings uses throughout the poem? How does he create linguistic paradoxes? Why do you think he does that? 
    4. Are we at all distracted from the poem's theme of love because of all the nuances of language and communication? Why or why not?

    Chew on This

    Love again? Yawn. Though love is the central theme of the poem, Cummings is obviously trying to provide a very different way of looking and thinking about love through his use of language.

    It's too close to call, y'all. It's a toss-up between love and language being the central theme to this poem, since we're constantly being shocked into "fresh eyes."

  • Awe and Amazement

    It's safe to say that the speaker is in awe of his lover and the love he carries with him. "[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]" is a great example of a modern poet borrowing some of the awe and amazement the Romantics were all about and bringing that feeling up-to-date. We've still got the occasional romantic cliché, but Cummings is careful to balance the clichés with his avant-garde style.

    Questions About Awe and Amazement

    1. How do we know the speaker is amazed by the love he carries with him? Do we have any instances of the speaker seeing the world in an "amazing" way? 
    2. How does Cummings balance the awe that's associated with the romantic cliché with his modern form and style?
    3. Does the third stanza resonate as sounding rather "awesome" and inspired? If so, how does Cummings use language to create this feeling? 
    4. Does the speaker's first-person voice help to create this feeling of awe and amazement? If the speaker had a third-person voice, would that feeling be the same? Why do you think so?

    Chew on This

    Love is an amazing thing (as a concept anyway), so it makes sense that the speaker would see the rest of the world in such an "awesome" way.

    The speaker may be amazed, but he takes his time getting there. It's not until the third stanza that we start to hear the speaker thinking in an awe-inspired way with that "tree called life."