anyone lived in a pretty how town
e.e. cummings
1940

Simple in style, with a sing-song rhythm and his characteristic play with language and punctuation, “anyone lived in a pretty how town” is one of the best-known of e.e. cummings’ poems. The poem examines the individual in society, the superficiality of what passes for life in twentieth century America, the anonymity of consumer society, the ability to fashion a world in which we rarely see one another and even more rarely learn anything substantial from or about one another.

cummings stands out for the fact that he managed to become one of the best-loved and most-recognizable American poets of the twentieth century despite the complexity and inaccessibility of the style and language he commonly employed. Somehow, though it takes time to understand a cummings poem, one walks away feeling the work is refreshingly simple. What is more, while there are poets known for a significant stylistic impact and others known for an ability to find profound insight in daily life and communicate that insight in a few short and entirely non-didactic words, cummings manages to do it all, and to do it all consistently. You read him in school. Read him again.

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