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The unorthodox punctuation and visual dispersion of schema, along

with manipulation of nouns, use of parenthesis, refrains and

conventional thematic concerns such as love, sex and nature in
Cummings’ poems “she being Brand”, “anyone lived in a pretty how
town” and “in Just” enhance the impact of his individualistic style
and attract the audience’s attention to his harsh social commentary
about aspects of human nature such as the transitional stages
between childhood and adulthood, sexual deviancy, the pressure to
succumb to society’s expectations and the lack of genuine
connection in society, many of which Cummings himself challenges
and urges his audience to avoid.

The visual dispersion of schema used in “she being Brand” and “in
Just” is one of Cummings must original stylistic features that
impacts the thematic concerns involved. The majority of his work
includes original visual dispersion with poems such as “i carry your
heart” being exceptions to this due to the fact that Cummings’ life
whilst writing “i carry your heart” had a sense of stability due to
meeting to his third and final partner hence the more traditional
form and outlook on life. The schema used throughout “in Just”
controls the rhythm of the poem and enhances the nursery rhyme
qualities, which alludes to the surface innocence of the poem and is
indicative of the limited linguistic knowledge of children. The
transitional and staggered dispersion in the line “the goat-footed
balloonman whistles…” is a direct association to chaos and
commotion through the symbolism of Pan the satyr, which contrasts
the simplistic and naïve life of a child and reflects the transition
from innocence to sexual deviancy, depicted by the balloonman
drawing the children away from their sexually separate world’s into

Transitional and staggered dispersion used in “she being Brand” has

a major impact on the rhythm of the poem and strongly reflects the
inexperience of the persona through the imitation of lurching
movements and the general quick pace of the poem. The use of
enjambment throughout, such as in the lines,
“were O.

K.) i went right to it flooded-the-..” where the lines flow on into

separate stanzas greatly impacts the rhythm and highlights the
personas rushed demeanour and ineptitude as a driver.

The use of unorthodox punctuation in the majority of Cummings’

work emphasises importance and ambiguity, such as the
capitalisation ‘J’ in “in Just”, a link to the disparity between the
thoughts of children and adults and conveys the paradoxical surface
innocence of the poem and its deeper, extreme sexual deviant
stance. The hyphenation of “mud-luscious” and “puddle-wonderful”
show the imagination and simplicity of childhood through these
newly create words. The innocence of childhood contrasts the
tainted and problematic adult world, where once innocent children
are drawn away from their sexually separate worlds into sexual
deviancy and are forced to succumb to society’s expectations, a
thematic concern the Cummings frequently deals with and forever
challenges due to his apparent resentment of conformity.
Compounded words also appear in “in Just” to signify the sexually
separate words in childhood. The compounding of “eddieandbill”
and “bettyandisbel” increases the pace, especially due to the
absent letter in “isbel” and reflects the togetherness and fast pace
of youth. The two sexes are separated, depicted through the gender
specific past times that the children are engaging in and finally
brought together by the balloonman, showing the transitional stage
between childhood and adulthood. The capitalisation of “M” in
“balloonman” signifies that he is the only adult character in the
poem, and that he, unlike the children, is afraid of difference and

Cummings’ use of unorthodox punctuation throughout “she being

Brand” controls the pace, constantly increasing the speed as the
‘driver’ approaches climax. The exaggerated use of punctuation in
the line, “..slo-wly; bare, ly nudg. ing..”
highlights the driver’s inexperience and frequent attempts to coax
his vehicle into ‘performing’. The frequent hyphenations such as
“second-in-to-high” and compounding of words like
“ineternalexpanding” and “externalcontracting” imitates the rush
and build up as the persona nears climax, and the exaggerated use
of colons in “…to a: dead.\ stand-\ ;Still)” after the climax, works to
slow down the pace, which reflects the finality and gives a sense of
closure to the poem.

The punctuation seen in “anyone lived in a pretty how town” is

seemingly more conventional than in other Cummings poetry,
however the capitalisation of “Women” is particularly emphasised as
it is the only use of capitalisation throughout the poem. It
accentuates the increasingly caring and understanding nature and
capacity of women in relation to men, and is a direct link to the
lines, “that noone loved him more by more” and “(and noone
stooped to kiss his face)” due to the fact that noone is the only
individual female mentioned, and her caring nature towards anyone
is obvious. The capitalisation of “Women” due to their caring nature
derives from the traditional gender roles, which stereotype women
as nurturers due to their possession of motherly qualities.

The two incremental refrains, “ spring summer autumn winter” and

“sun moon stars rain” used in “anyone lived in a pretty how town”
create a sense of repetition and emphasise the cyclical nature of life
that many will eventually surrender to. Someone and everyone
represent this cyclical, repetitive and conventional way of life as
they constantly “sow their isn’t” and “reap their same”, achieving
nothing, whilst anyone and noone live an increasingly individualistic
lifestyle and are not pressured by society’s expectations, a lifestyle
clearly preferred by Cummings. The conventional and predictable
lifestyles of someone and everyone work with the opening line,
“anyone lived in a pretty how town”, to create a sense of rhetoric as
the majority of human kind exist in such conditions and fail to
realise it.

One of Cummings’ trademark stylistic features, the parenthesis, is

used effectively in “anyone lived in a pretty how town” to convey
insignificance and loss of power. Cummings’ describes the women
and men as “(little and small)”, reflecting the insular nature of the
people in the community, the “little and small” acting as a comment
on their level of humanity and capacity to love rather than
physicality. The second use of parenthesis concerns the transition
from childhood to adulthood and from individuality to conformity.
The use of binary opposites in “(but only a few as down they forgot
as up they grew…)” highlights that during childhood, the youth can
see beyond the social restrictions to what is considered to be ‘true’.
The inclusion of the parenthesis reflects the conforming nature of
the adults and that due to the cyclical nature of life, and pressure to
conform to society’s expectations, ‘only a few’ will remain
individualistic whilst the remainder of children will begin to conform
to social expectations during the transition to adulthood. The binary
opposites of up and down emphasise the irony as the children begin
to lose knowledge as they mature.

Cumming’s unconventional use of punctuation and schema makes

him especially original and individualistic however his poetry
contains many traditional poetics. “she being Brand” is an obvious
example of an extended metaphor which objectifies women and
relates them to commercial and materialistic objects, depicting the
auto/sex revolution, which allowed many youths to become ‘self
reliant’ due to the newly discovered privacy that their cars enabled
them to have. The use of an extended metaphor also creates an
ambiguity concerning the persona. The persona possesses a false
confidence and is prone to making mistakes “I went right to it
flooded-the-carburetor… and then somehow got into reverse..”,
making it obvious that he is an inexperienced driver, both literally
and metaphorically, as an inexperienced seducer, or lover. The
ambiguity of the person links to the personification of the car, a
device that becomes apparent through the clearly sexual
experiences that the driver is engaging in, and the direct link
between automobiles and sexuality in modern culture.

E.E. Cummings inclusion of hypallage in the opening line of “anyone

lived in a pretty how town” gives the poem an intended ambiguity.
The line can be rearranged to read “how anyone lived in a pretty
town”, and this ambiguity is used throughout the poem to
emphasise the manipulation of the nouns ‘anyone’, ‘noone’,
‘someone’ and ‘everyone’ which alter the way in which the poem is
Traditional figurative language such as symbolism is emphasised in
“in Just” due to the thematic concern of nature being evident. The
positive connotations associated with spring are linked to new birth
and early childhood, a period of innocence and simplicity that is
depicted in the beginning of the poem when “eddieandbill” and
“bettyandisbel” exist in their sexually separate worlds, engaging in
gender specific past times until the “queer old balloonman” draws
them together.

“anyone lives in a pretty how town”, “in Just” and “she being Brand”
are characteristic of quintessential Cummings, through the use of
visual dispersion, unorthodox punctuation, refrains, parenthesis and
traditional figurative language and thematic concerns that
emphasise Cummings’ commentary on aspects of human nature
such as materialism, sexual deviancy and the transition from
childhood to adulthood. Cummings’ individualistic style is reflected
in all of his work, and he reinforces his belief that life should not be
influenced by society’s expectations and the cyclical and
conventional routine that the majority of us succumb to but rather
by our individual values and attitudes. Although Cummings deals
with universal themes in all of his work, he remains individualistic
and entirely original due to his ability to capture his audience’s
attention and make them search for reason and understanding in his
highly satirical but utterly truthful poetry which provides a brand
new outlook on humanity.