|Hello, faithful readers. Please check out the poetry animation I have posted on YouTube. It animates the poem "l(a" by |
There's more that one can say about this poem, as well.
The form of it, first of all, resembles the letter l or the number 1 because of its skinny vertical shape. (As you probably know, on older typewriters — like the ones cummings used — there is no key for the number one; instead typists would type the letter l to represent a number one.)
What cummings uncovers for us here is how many times the number one (as suggested by the letter l) appears in the word loneliness: four times. And of course there's also the letter l/number one in the word leaf. The lineation cummings uses, then, is not arbitrary. He is emphasizing all the instances of the number one along with the literal appearance of the word one itself within the word "loneliness."
The leaf, as an image, is of course a time-honored way of talking about life and its transitory nature. The leaf falling off the tree is both an image of death as well as aloneness. The movement of the leaf as it falls is suggested by cummings here in the movement of the poem downwards on the page, especially because of the line skips (stanza breaks?). As many have noted, the "af" followed by the "fa" implies through the letters changing position the twirling of a leaf in air. Some have even suggested that the first line, "l(a," represents a leaf on a branch; the poem before the last line portrays the movement of the leaf as it travels through the air; and the final line is a pile of leaves.
While that may be (cummings, after all, was a well-known painter and critics of his work have pointed out the pictorial aspects of his poetry), one can also read the last line, "iness," as "I-ness." In other words, loneliness and perhaps the knowledge of the inevitability of death are part of what it means to be an "I," to be a human being, to acknowledge one's own identity.
That's lot to pack into 22 letters, 6 syllables, 4 words. And cummings accomplishes it through enjambment, lineation, and stanza-making. Incredible.
Please leave me a comment below about the video or anything on this post. I'd really like to know what you're thinking. Also, do you have any suggestions for poetry animations? Thanks.
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