Study Guide

if everything happens that can't be done Stanza 5

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Stanza 5

Line 37

we're anything brighter than even the sun

  • What a love these two have. It's brighter than even the sun. Ah, romance.
  • This line is an example of hyperbole, or extreme exaggeration. Being brighter than the sun would be pretty hard to do in real life, as no one would be able to look at you straight on without some serious eye damage.
  • But it may not be a visual brightness that this line refers to, but a brightness of the heart, of the soul. The power that these two people feel – and that all people, as part of the "one" can feel – is more powerful and shining than the sun.

Lines 38-40

(we're everything greater
than books
might mean)

  • This "we" is turning out to be pretty magnificent. First it's brighter than the sun, and now it's greater than anything books could mean? Hello super-couple.
  • These lines continue the theme of doubting books. Like birds, flower buds, and, well, anything (according to this poem), "we" is better than books.
  • Shmoop just can't resist pointing out the irony that books are being so criticized in a poem that is printed in a book. But let's leave the irony aside for a moment, and think about what the speaker's really saying about books.
  • He's stating that "we" is better than anything books could mean. This could be taken a few different ways.
  • It could be saying that books can always have multiple meanings (because he tosses in that word "might"), or that "being" is better than "meaning."
  • We think that, most importantly, the poem is suggesting that if something can be seen or done in real life, it should be done, and not just read about. Anything you do in life will be better than the book version.

Line 41

we're everyanything more than believe

  • "Everyanything" strikes again.
  • Here, the speaker is saying that "we" (probably he and the person he loves), are everything and anything more than "believe."
  • But wait a minute. The word "believe" is a verb. But here he's using it as a noun. Weird.
  • Think about the word "believe." It could be religious, or just about having convictions. Or it could be about having hope, and having faith in yourself and in the world.
  • In this poem, maybe, it refers to believing that everything can happen that can't be done.
  • But then you think of "we" as being more than even the concept of "believing." And not just your average more – everyanything more. So this "we" must be something pretty darn spectacular.
  • This isn't just your run-of-the-mill relationship. It, too, is accomplishing the impossible, the "can't be done."

Lines 42-44

(with a spin
alive we're alive)

  • These lines, like the rest of the second section of parentheses in each stanza, show us dynamic motion. In this case, we're spinning, leaping, feeling so alive that we have to repeat ourselves.
  • While we're still not getting an exact visual here, these lines do a pretty good job describing how the couple in this poem must feel.
  • Plus, they describe what we, as readers, feel as we read the poem. Spinning and leaping through the made-up words, the rhymes, the dynamic rhythms. This poem makes us feel more alive, despite what its speaker might think about the power, or lack thereof, of books.

Line 45

we're wonderful one times one

  • This final line plays on the sound of the word "wonderful" to bring back the concept of "one." As it turns out, this poem was published in Cummings's book titled "One Times One," so this poem most likely had some influence on the title of the book, or vice versa.
  • But this line, more than reminding us of the title of the book in which it was published, completes the feeling of love, oneness, and possibilities that this poem asks us to believe in.
  • While it's difficult to say what "one times one" might mean, let's drop English class for a minute and go to math. One times one is what folks? That's right—one.
  • Could love, as the poem is suggesting, be a matter of multiplying oneness, rather than adding together two different souls? Instead of 1 + 1 = 2, could love actually be 1 x 1 = 1?
  • No matter what this line might mean, it's just like the rest of the poem – the meaning isn't as important as the feeling. "We" is greater than books and meaning and all of that.
  • In other words, read this summary as you may, but as you finish it, take with you not just what you think about the poem, but more importantly what you feel as you read it.

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