Cummings, E. E. "Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town." PoemHunter.Com. 03 May 2010. Web. 03 May 2010. <http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/anyone-lived-in-a-pretty-how-town>.


E. E. Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Wilhelm 704). He was the son of a Unitarian minister and his mother encouraged him to write and to keep a journal (Wilhelm 704). He attended Harvard University, receiving his master’s degree in 1916, and then volunteered to serve as an ambulance driver in World War I (Wilhelm 704). After the war was over, he lived in Greenwich Village in New York City, studied in Paris, and published his first book of poetry called Tulips and Chimneys (Wilhelm 704). During the 1950s, he received more recognition for his work; he won the Harriet Monroe Prize in 1950, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1933 and 1951, and the Bollingen Prize in Poetry in 1958 (Wilhelm 704). “Biographer Richard S. Kennedy summed up Cummings’s work by writing ‘What he produced will long amuse, titillate, thrill, provoke, or enthrall his readers’” (Wilhelm 704).

Modernism has literary pieces that have loosely defined characteristics (Lorcher). Modernism is a reaction against Realism and had an emphasis on the individual inner being instead of the social being (Worthington). Modernism experiments with language, is a distortion of perception, and is unordered (Worthington). Modernism has a strong reaction against established religious, political, and social views, which breaks tradition (Lorcher). Throughout E.E. Cummings’ life he rebelled against the authoritarian forces that tended to look down on being unique (Wilhelm 704). He married three times and only held regular jobs for a very short amount of time, which was against the social norms during that time (Wilhelm 704). “His rebellion against authority took radical form in his poetry. People often view language as a fixed system. Cummings saw language as a flexible took. In his poems, he combined words, playing with punctuation and syntax to create unique forms of poetic expression” (Wilhelm 704). In his poem called "anyone lived in a pretty how town", he said “and noone stopped to kiss his face” (Wilhelm 707). This is an example of him using his own style and combining words in his poem, because he combined the words no one.

“Cummings' father was an incredible influence on his work. At his death, Cummings' entered a new poetic period. His father's death sobered E.E. to write about more important facets of life. Cummings began his new era of poetry by paying tribute to his father's memory in his poem, "my father moved through the dooms of love". This poem, used to cope with the death of his role model, was not a somber funeral drone, but rather, a celebration of the life and love that his father brought to Cummings' life and poetry” (Eich).


Marianne Moore's "Poetry" is similar to E. E. Cummings' "Anyone who lived in a how town" because Moore wrote it in a syllabic form which is similiar to a free verse. E. E. Cummings wrote "Anyone who lived in a how town" in a free verse.

E. E. Cummings is an example of a Modernist writer. He experimented with the punctuation and combined different words, to make his writings unique. His father, that died in and accident, had a huge impact on his writing at the time.





“To be nobody-but-myself-in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make me everybody else- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.”
-E. E. Cummings (Wilhelm 704).


Eich, Marty. "E. E. Cummings Biography." Famous Poems and Poets.com. Famous
Poets And Poems.Com, 2010. Web. 2 May 2010. <http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/eecummings/biography>.


Lorcher, Trent. "Lesson Plans: Modernism in Literature." Bright Hub. Bright Hub Inc,
2010. Web. 30 Apr. 2010. <http://www.brighthub.com/education/k-12/articles/29453.aspx>.


Wilhelm, Fisher, Chin, Royster. American Literature. Columbus: McGraw Hill Glencoe,
2009. Print.

Worthington, Leslie. "Characteristics of Modernism." SOCRATES. Troy University, 8
May 2007. Web. 30 March 2010. <http://socrates.troy.edu/~lworthington/eng2206/mod.htm>.





Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town Essay by Veronica Tellez
E.E. Cummings wrote poems and painted many pictures (Everett). He was drawn into the Modernism time period and was influenced by other writers of the time. Cummings used experimentation and psychology in his poems. Readers can also see how his chaotic life has affected his writing (Everett). “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town” by Cummings shows how his experiences contributed to his writings as well as how he used the techniques of the Modernism time period (Cummings).

Modernism poems were seen to have themes that related to individuals experiences (Langley). In “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town”, Cummings took individual experiences to a more general sense and talked about everyone’s life. By telling about the cycle of life, this poem also goes with the common theme of questioning the meaning of human existence (Langley). “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town” seems to talk about the cycle of life as predictable. Overall, it seems Cummings just sees life as pointless, but still goes on and sees the best of life as he can. In the poem, it talks about marriage in a positive way. Cummings got married three times, but seemed to finally settle down with a family in his third marriage (Everett). This might have contributed to the outlook of marriage in the poem. Cummings also seemed to be very influenced by World War I, which might have brought on the thought of death in the poem (Everett). Both despair and hope, like in many other writings of the time (Langley), are seen from the dying and rebirth of life. Using psychology, Cummings used experimentation and word games by saying anyone when he should of said people, or substituting the word anyone with an actual pronoun of “he”. Switching up words like this also allowed for the readers to get different meaning from it. He also just made weird phrases like the opening sentence “anyone lived in a pretty how town, “(Cummings) which basically means everyone lives in this pretty world, but they do not exactly know how to live and just go with the flow. This “how town” is basically a world of the question how? Modernism techniques were seen all throughout this poem and Cummings put this poem together in a very wise way.

E.E. Cummings talent all started with his parents amazing encouragement of his creativity and intellect when he was little. As he got older he traveled to places like Paris to study even more abroad. He seemed to be very influenced by the two other well known writers of the time: Gertrude Stein and Amy Lowell. Stein’s syntactical aspect and Lowell’s experimentations are seen throughout Cumming writings (Everett). Other Cummings’ works focus on the scientific aspect of life, much like “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town.” They also include verbal and visual intellect and experimentations like this poem. Cummings’ works show mystical and anarchistic themes too (Everett). “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town” includes mystical characteristics when it talks about the stars and other mysterious things, but it does not show much anarchistic characteristics (Cummings). Anyways, this poem still shows many characteristics that resemble Cummings style and also the Modernism style. Other Modernism writings like “The Magic Barrel” can relate to “ Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town” too. They both show characteristics of mystery and also psychology. They both relate to individuals and tell about life. Last, they show experimentations and originality (Malamud).

In Conclusion, “ Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town” can show how E.E. Cummings related his experiences and beliefs to his work. It also shows the Modernism aspect and techniques too. This poem was put together in a very intellectual way and Cummings ended up with a very brain-teasing, but simple and modern theme that could change how his reader views the world, which I believe is what Cummings was going for after all.

~By Veronica Tellez


Everett, Nicholas. "E. E. Cummings' Life." Modern American Poetry. Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois, 18 Mar. 2001. Web. 04 May 2010. <http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/cummings/cummings_life.htm>.

Cummings, E. E. "Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town." PoemHunter.Com. 03 May 2010. Web. 03 May 2010. <http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/anyone-lived-in-a-pretty-how-town>.

Langley, John. "Introduction to Modernism (Mr. Langley's Digital Classroom)." Google Sites. Web. 03 May 2010. <http://sites.google.com/site/mrlangleysroom/english332/introduction-to-modernism>.

Malamud, Bernard. "The Magic Barrel." American and British Studies at New Bulgarian University, Sofia. Web. 04 May 2010. <http://amb.cult.bg/american/5/malamud/barrel.htm>.