Study Guide

Maggie and Milly and Molly and May Stanza 3

By E.E. Cummings

Stanza 3

Lines 5-6

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were; 

  • Next up is milly, who finds a "star." Wow, what are the odds of finding a star at the beach? Actually, given that location, as well as its five "rays," we're dealing with a starfish here.
  • Since it's "stranded," we can assume that the starfish is all alone, probably on a rock or in the sand somewhere. And we know you super-smart Shmoopers have already noticed some more alliteration here, right?
  • But what's up with line 6 and the speaker's mention of "five languid fingers"? Why are they "languid," which means slow or lazy?
  • Well, when we think of a starfish we can imagine its fingers looking all lazy and floppy. Their extremities never really look that straight and uptight (unless, you know, the poor thing's dead and dried up). Alive, they look more easy-going and flowing—like the ocean.
  • Since milly is the one who befriends the creature that looks a bit lonely and out of place, we might also read into this a bit and imagine milly to be the loner of the group. She looks like she gets where this lonely starfish is coming from because she "befriends" it here. Usually we befriend people (and things) we can relate to. 
  • Plus, the "fingers" part personifies the starfish as a kind of person, which links milly with the starfish in a more human way. Check out our "Symbols and Imagery" section for more on that.

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