Analysis of e. e. cummings' "i thank You God"


e. cummings nutoriously used visual representation of his poems as well as the connotation and denotation of the words that compose them, then tampered with the rhythm of the lines to get across his point to the reader in “i thank You God.” He presents his spiritual rebirth with the renewal of how he sees the world, as if for the first time. The first instance of his playing with punctuation and grammar appears in the title and first line. He lowercases “i” and capitalized “You” to show the difference between the speaker’s view of himself and God, placing God above the speaker.

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The line draws from Cummings’ view of God in his later years of life, when he believed in Unitarian ideologies that God was transcendental to all things, and so he applied this honorific style of punctuation to the rest of the poem. Then, further utilizing poetic license, Cummings hides the speaker’s words that speak of himself or his own thoughts behind parentheses as if they are a thought or aside, and then keeps the worshipful lines out in the open. Line by the line the words dance in rhythm to the poems tone of rebirth. “The gay, great, happening, illimitably earth” bounces with alliteration and the natural skip of the words with a quick, choppy beat like a busy and eventful, or happening, energy. The line, “leaping greenly spirits of trees” does this as well with assonance that makes the words bound as well. The skip-step switches between iambic and trochaic with hints of spondaic meters that all make up the lines.

Words are placed and adjusted to the rhythm of the line to emphasize specific syllables or words. Then, the tempo and rhythm slow in the reflective sections, where the speaker breathes to take the world in (Imaad Isaacs Foundation.) The words’ meanings take a quirky route in Cummings’ work. He uses the words “natural,” “infinite,” and “yes” all to describe God and nature, switching between the denotation and connotation of the words (Imaad Isaacs Foundation.) “Natural” and “infinite” are understandable words to use to describe God, but “yes” gives a sense of everything as right and true and good. In the third line, he contrasts it with the “‘no’ of all nothing” from which the “yes” saved the speaker.

The speaker calls the day “the birthday of life and of love and of wings” representing his new life, love, and freedom in Christ. Cummings wrote “i thank You God” in his late years of life, after he returned to his father, a pastor, after rebelling against him for decades since his years at Harvard. He took up an Emersonian view of God to an extreme, seeing God as an ultimate Oversoul that each soul will stand before. To put Him into English, Cummings described Him as “yes” for lack of a better term, and evil as so repulsive he could only call it a “no.” The poem also reflects the central idea of oneness in Emersonian Christianity, that God is one is one, as in no trinity, but that God is also one with nature, so experiencing nature is experiencing God.

The worship in this is praising the creation’s beauty to its creator, and with the voice of a child of the faith taking in the world for the first time (Cowley.) Cummings brings every element and detail together to illustrate God’s redemption of him (Friedman.) Born again, the speaker becomes like a child once more, and is in love with Gd and the world, excited yet reflective, and humbly exalting an indescribable God. He in the poem realizing the amazing wonder of God, saying, “Now the ears of my ears awake, and the eyes of my eyes are opened” to depict the realization of His wonder, and opened not by him but by God. “i thank You God: is a beautiful and unique Reawakening.

Works Cited Cowley, Malcom . “E.E. CUMMINGS: POET AND PAINTER.” Harvard Square Library | Unitarian Universalist Biographies | Cambridge | History | Philosophy.

Harvard Square Library, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.>. Friedman, Norman . “E. E.

Cummings- – Poetry, Poems, Bios & More.” – Poetry, Poems, Bios & More., n.

d. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.>. “i thank You God analysis .” www.imaad.

info. The Imaad Isaacs Foundation, n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2013.