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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

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"Since feeling is first" is a poem by E.E. Cummings, first published in 1926. The poem is known for its experimental use of language and structure.


The poem begins by suggesting that "feeling is first" and that "to be alive is to be able to feel." Cummings then argues that any experience that is not rooted in feeling is "false" and meaningless. He uses several metaphors to describe the importance of feeling, including a flower opening to the sun and a bird flying towards the sky.

The poem then turns to the idea of love, which Cummings suggests is the ultimate expression of feeling. He describes love as a "wildest cry" that breaks down all barriers and brings two people together in a deep connection. Cummings suggests that love is a force that cannot be controlled or measured, but rather is an experience that is only possible through feeling.

Throughout the poem, Cummings uses unconventional capitalization and punctuation to emphasize certain words and phrases. He also employs enjambment and unusual line breaks to create a disjointed yet musical effect.

Poetic Elements:

  • Form: Free verse, unconventional capitalization and punctuation, enjambment and unusual line breaks
  • Theme: The importance of feeling and love
  • Imagery: Metaphors of a flower opening to the sun and a bird flying towards the sky
  • Tone: Reverent, passionate, celebratory
  • Sound: Musical, with a focus on rhythm and internal rhyme
  • Language: Unconventional, with unusual syntax and word choices
  • Figurative language: Metaphors and similes, personification
  • Structure: Unconventional line breaks and use of white space to create a disjointed effect
  • Symbolism: The flower and the bird serve as symbols of the importance of feeling and the freedom that comes with it
  • Emotion: The poem is full of intense emotion, particularly a deep reverence for feeling and love.


"Since feeling is first" is a beautiful and unconventional poem that celebrates the importance of feeling and love in a way that is both passionate and reverent. Cummings uses his characteristic experimental style to create a disjointed yet musical effect that emphasizes the power of feeling to break down barriers and create deep connections between people.


since feeling is first

who pays any attention

to the syntax of things

will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool

while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,

and kisses are a better fate

than wisdom

lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry

—the best gesture of my brain is less than

your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other; then

laugh, leaning back in my arms

for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

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