Study Guide

my father moved through dooms of love Themes

  • Death

    When you've got an elegy on your hands, there's a high probability that the theme of death is going to rear its skull-y head. In "my father moved through dooms of love," the speaker honors his dearly departed father with a celebration of the way the man lived his life. Without shying away from the darkness and gruesomeness that comes along with the theme of death, "my father moved through dooms of love" manages to be an uplifting homage to a loved one who's passed on.

    Questions About Death

    1. Overall, do you think the poem presents a positive view of death, or is it more doom and gloom? Why do you think so?
    2. How do the lines in the poem that are more obviously about death play off of the more metaphorical references in the lines about the seasons?
    3. Which would you say the speaker values more: the rewards of the afterlife, or the rewards of life itself? What parts of the poem give you your ideas? 
    4. Do you think that the speaker's father would agree with his son's attitude toward death? Why or why not?

    Chew on This

    The speaker seems to have contradicting feelings about the nature of the afterlife, or the lack thereof. Make up your mind, pal.

    The speaker is mostly like "whatevs" to death and makes this elegy a celebration of his father's life.

  • Philosophical Viewpoints: Individualism

    Cummings was a big believer in the power of individualism and was constantly talking smack about all the conformity he saw around him. His free-spirited attitude was not only clear in his unique style of poetry, but also in themes that the poems jammed on. The poem "my father moved through dooms of love" is a great example of this. In it, the speaker talks about how cool his father's individualistic spirit was, and also how his father inspired those around him to be fearless crusaders against conformity.

    Questions About Philosophical Viewpoints: Individualism

    1. In what ways does the speaker describe the dangers of conformity?
    2. How do you think the speaker's father might've inspired others' individuality?
    3. Why do you think the speaker and his father value non-conformity so much? What was so great about it to them?

    Chew on This

    Cummings's individualistic spirit is totally apparent in his unique poetry style, in this poem as well as others. Rock on, E.E.

    Because the speaker talks about how totes awesome his Father is for inspiring people to challenge conformity, it's clear that it's something that he really values as a person.

  • Man and the Natural World

    The theme of nature is a big deal in a lot of Cummings's poems. Some say that he wrote in the tradition of nature-loving Transcendentalist writers like Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman. Also, hid dad has been described as a Transcendentalist Christian minister, so it's no big surprise that "my father moved through dooms of love" is seeded with a heapin' helpin' of natural imagery. Throughout the poem, the speaker uses images like mountains, seas, and stars to represent the best of what his father was. (Note: there's a lot of natural imagery of the seasons in this poem as well. We're all over that in "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory.")

    Questions About Man and the Natural World

    1. Which line in the poem do you think best shows the speaker's father's unity with nature? Why that one?
    2. Does the poem ever show humanity at odds with the natural world? What parts of the poem support your response?
    3. In what ways does the talk of nature take on an almost religious fervor in the poem?
    4. Let's pretend that the speaker doesn't mean any of this nature stuff literally. What personality traits of the father might it represent? What is the effect of the speaker using nature imagery to get those ideas across?

    Chew on This

    The natural imagery in the poem ultimately expresses the speaker's father's peace with death and the hereafter. He's cool with it all.

    The poem contrasts the awful conformity and maliciousness of human society (boo) with the pure beauty of the natural world (yay).

  • Principles

    The speaker's father sounds like a real stand-up guy. Throughout "my father moved through dooms of love," the speaker talks about his father like he was the most generous person in the world. Dad was there for people who needed him and even helped those who wouldn't lift a finger to help him. Overall, the speaker holds his father's life up as an example of what living by the principles of true generosity really looks like.

    Questions About Principles

    1. In what ways does the speaker's father demonstrate his generosity?
    2. Are there any downsides to the father's generosity presented in the poem? Why do you think so? 
    3. Do you think the philosophy of individualism conflicts in any way with the principles of living a generous life? How might the speaker answer that question?

    Chew on This

    Foes, schmoes. The value the speaker places on being generous, even to one's enemies, places the poem in a context of Christian values.

    Heads up, gang. The acts of generosity that the speaker describes in his father cannot be taken at face value. The speaker is blinded by his nostalgia for his late father, and so he can't be trusted.