Monday Poem: “anyone lived in a pretty how town” by e. e. cummings

The Monday Poem

As I said a few weeks ago (and they went by very quickly, I must say), e. e. cummings has written a number of poems I particularly love. Here’s another one of them I’d like to share, the one that first introduced me to his work:

anyone lived in a pretty how town by e. e. cummings

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

(courtesy of

The thing I particularly adore about this poem is the rhythm. It’s so light and springy – with up so many floating bells down! – it’s a pleasure to read aloud, and it cleverly reinforces the structure and meaning of the verses as well. Also, cummings has mastered the very difficult trick of referring to ordinary things like death, life, love, marriage, even men and women, in a decidedly original way, without confusing the reader and while still managing to add an interesting new dimension to the subject in question. When I read this, I picture a group of men, women and children dancing to a drumbeat around a fire, telling the story of anyone and noone with their movements. What images does it give you?

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