Drew Lang:

E.E. Cummings is a different poet, one that cannot be completely described in a sentence, or a paragraph—or an essay, for that matter. He is completely different and unique from any other poet, and is absolutely confusing. It is impossible to read a Cummings poem without being completely perplexed on the first read . . . And the second . . . And third . . . Well, basically throughout every read, it is confusing, but in that confusion comes some sort of end result, as if Cummings never quite wants anyone to understand what he is trying to say exactly, but wants them to at least hear slight mumbles to make out. At least, for some it would be that way. How this correlates with the poem somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond, is that it seethes confusion. The narrator points out that in the opening line (and the title of the poem itself), that he is somewhere he has never travelled. In keeping with the Modernist ways, it follows an alienated person exploring new worlds that are far and away from all the traditions of his life beforehand. In this poem, Cummings attempts to look at new emotions from a stance ignorant of what emotions feel like in the beginning.

It is obvious (after the fourth read, mind you) that the poem is about a man that is unconditionally in love.

“somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in their most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near” (Cummings)

He has ventured into a new emotion that he has never felt before, and is more than willing to travel further due to its euphoric feeling. The narrator speaks to another entity, the one of his undying affection. He goes on to describe every part of her that enthralls him. The odd contradiction of the last line is of notice: The narrator cannot touch something that is too near to him. It could be inferred that his exalting this woman, as if she a divine creature that he feels is too great for him to bother.

“The last line of the same stanza however, describes the fragile situation they are in and perhaps this line reveals Cummings’ difficulty in expressing his love for his muse.” (Protacio)

The narrator often refers to himself and his feelings in the imagery of a flower:

“In general, the flower or the rose that the poem speaks of is the poet himself or the feelings of the poet and how the muse has the power to open and close this symbolic rose upon her wishes.” (Protacio)

This is an odd image to have within a Modernist’s work. After all, Modernists value inner strength and independence, so why, then, would Cummings present a character that cannot seem to control himself, but have a woman be the puppeteer? Perhaps it is that Cummings prefers to believe that this man has such strength in himself that he would give his heart to another to do with as she pleases. This courage, this ability to become utterly dependent on another is just that: Independence; and that is what is outstanding about the narrator.

The use of grammar in the poem is very perplexing, but can best be described in the following:

“Cummings is so enamored of his beloved that he does not want to even take the customary pauses that punctuation marks, such as commas, introduce into a line of poetry . . . One can also find support for this idea by examining the poem's periods — or lack thereof . . . In "somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond," . . [Cummings] does not include any periods at any point in the poem. It is as if he wants to indicate grammatically the timeless quality of his love, which will never end.” (Porquette)

Indeed, from this information it can very easily be identified how Cummings wished to elaborate his love through his grammatical “errors” throughout the poem. As in the beginning, there is no capitalization to emphasize the beginning of the poem, nor is there a period, symbolizing that the poem has no beginning nor an end. (Porquette) In fact, according to Porquette, the rules of poetry at the time of this poem’s publication were quite strict, and Cummings failed to adhere to any of them, further signifying the Modernist undertones of the poem (where there are some, at least).

Where does Cummings find these feelings from, however? After all, he was married three times (Eich), what could he know of true, undying love? It could perhaps be from his appreciation of his parents. Cummings’ father was killed in a car crash in 1926, greatly influencing his work from that point on. However, Cummings had a great knowledge of how much his parents loved one another, and how much he loved them as well. (Eich)

As for relating to Cummings’ other works, well . . . This poem is slightly easier to understand than all the rest. It of course adopts the style of Cummings, with odd grammar and punctuation, yet it is the most comprehensible of all the poems of his that can be read, perhaps. It is in high contrast to T.S. Eliot’s The Journey of the Magi, as this poem follows an individual’s happy feelings from experiencing something new, while Eliot’s instead follows an individual’s despair after coming to terms with his end in relevant existence from the new experiences that he encounters. Both, however, exemplify everything that Modernism represents, and are prime examples of what Modernism is.

Works Cited

Cummings, E. E. "Somewhere I Have Never Travelled,gladly beyond." Poets.org - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More. Web. 2 May 2010. <http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15401>.

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

Poquette, Ryan D. "Somewhere I Have Never Travelled,gladly beyond (Criticism): Information from Answers.com." Answers.com: Wiki Q&A Combined with Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Encyclopedias. Web. 2 May 2010. <http://www.answers.com/topic/somewhere-i-have-never-travelled-gladly-beyond-poem-7>.

Protacio, J. "Somewhere I Have Never Travelled - A Short Analysis By: Jay Protacio M.)." Lit. Analysis For All. 13 Sept. 2007. Web. 2 May 2010. http://jayprotacio-analysis.blogspot.com/2007/09/somewhere-i-have-never-travelled-short.html.



Taylor Gorda:

Out of the many struggling poets from the Modernism era, E.E. Cummings prospered. In the poem "Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond", Cummings portrays modernism in the way he is discovering the world, and a feeling or place he has never been before (Cummings 706). His Harvard education led to an outstanding, both literary and artistic, career (Murphy). Other works by Cummings became famous for their boldness, while "Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond" became known as one of his best love poems.

The literary period of modernism was greatly affected by the events going on in the world at the time. For example, World War I, The Great Depression, and the new individual freedom of the average American shaped this era. In "Somewhere I Have Travelled, Gladly Beyond", Cummings was not afraid to break the boundaries of traditional poetry writing. For example, he used parentheses and colons in odd places that most other poets would call unconventional (Cummings 706). But unconventional was quite an appropriate description of E.E. Cummings. Like others during this time period, Cummings was searching for his true identity, and "travelling" to places that he never travelled before. This poem is about his feelings toward a woman, and it seems obvious that he is new to this feeling (Cummings 706). He does not know exactly why it has such a control over him, but the reader can feel the depth of his love. "I do not know what it is about you that closes and opens; only something in me understands the voice in your eyes is deeper than all roses," (Cummings 706). This is specific to modernism because of his bravery to face the unknown, just like many other Americans at this time.

The life of E.E. Cummings had much to do with his literary career. He graduated from Harvard University in 1916, taking with him knowledge he would use towards his poetry. However, Cummings began writing poetry at a young age, giving him the experience as well. Besides being a writer, Cummings showed his art in magazines during the 1920's (Murphy). His artistic view of the world helped him portray his feelings in word form as well. He was married three times, giving him knowledge on the subject of love, which is the theme of "Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond" (Murphy).

"Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond" differs from most of the other works of E.E. Cummings. He did write other love poems, but Cummings is best known for his novel, "The Enormous Room" (Murphy). This is an account of his imprisonment during World War I (Murphy). This poem and "The Enormous Room" have similarites in that they both they both show the pure and kind nature of Cummings's personality. Cummings was imprisoned for being a pacifist, and "Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond" exhibits his respect for the woman he loves (Murphy). This is significant because his works display his true impact on American society.

In conclusion, E.E. Cummings was quite an influential writer of the modernism era. His writings and artwork all made an impression on the people who were exposed to them. "Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond" is a love poem that exemplifies modernism with its daring and bold nature. Cummings's life experiences contributed to his writings, and he absorbed the culture and events around him and used them in both his artwork and his poems. No matter what you read by E.E. Cummings, you will not miss out on the experience that will make you want to look at the world in a different way.

Cummings, E.E. "Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond." American Literature. Comp. Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, PhD. Columbus: Glencoe, 2009. 704-06. Print.
Murphy, Mary A. "Bloom's Literary Reference Online." Facts On File Online Databases. Web. 03 May 2010. <http://www.fofweb.com/Lit/default.asp?ItemID=WE54>.