You're alone and in a quiet mood in autumn. You see a single leaf, perhaps brown, perhaps golden, fall from a tree, twirling and shifting side-to-side as the still, crisp air tries to keep it aloft, until the defiant leaf reaches the ground to end its brief and final journey.

Perhaps that makes you think.

Calmness. Loneliness. Death. Loneliness in death. Death in loneliness. Leaves die in many generations before the tree itself is gone. We are all leaves who come to final rest in the ground. Cycle of life. ... ...


On another day, in another mood, in another place, you may find this writ on paper (or screen):











Now, if your brain is like mine at all, your first reaction may be, "What the hell is this?!" Pieces of words thrown from a spinning blender.

But then your brain, as brains tend to do, begins to see structure. There are paired parens. We concatenate the letters between them and get a sentence, an image. Before the parenthetic, an 'l' and after it 'one liness, and all stitched together, we have 'loneliness'. Thus: "l(a leaf falls)oneliness"

It is a poem by Edward Estlin Cummings.

So why did E.E. give it to us like that, all chopped up, and make us re-assemble it?

Meself, I think the form suggests the physical falling of a leaf, and perhaps that we need to make effort to look beyond the form of a thing to get its meaning. 'one' is drawn out of 'loneliness' and separated from 'l' to emphasize the singularity of the individual (oneliness) who experiences loneliness. But then, what do I know.

Much is said (inferred, guessed, or simply confabulated), by many, about this poem's form and meaning. Who can say who's right or wrong? No one at all. Perhaps we could ask anyone, who lived in that pretty how town.

Think what you feel, not what they say you ought.

This is poetry.

He is the poet. Poets control the horizontal and the vertical.

And so do you.