“life’s not a paragraph”

[since feeling is first]

E.E. Cummings (1894-1962)

It’s the first of the year, so a poem that includes “first” in its first line seems appropriate.

For years, starting with an unfortunate foray into “anyone lived in a pretty how town” with a dreadful textbook and checked-out teacher, I was turned off by Cummings’s unconventional punctuation, phrasing, linebreaks, and structure. But now, firmly ensconced in my late twenties, life looks a little more messy than it did at sixteen, and so I rather like the way the lines of this poem splay across the page. I like that I’m left wondering what the “best gesture” of the speaker’s brain might be.

You can read the poem that begins, “since feeling is first” here, at the Writer’s Almanac, and you may find more about E.E. Cummings here, at The Poetry Foundation.