What is your favorite poem and why?
Though I'm more of a prose person, for me this question was a no-brainer. e.e. cummings has been my favorite poet for approximately ever and even writing my high school junior thesis on him did nothing to lower him in my estimation (it may have helped that I got an A++… I'm not kidding). One of his poems that I wrote about was "somewhere I have never travelled" and it has remained my favorite poem ever since. For those of you who are not familiar, here it is:
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyondany experience,your eyes have their silence:in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,or which i cannot touch because they are too nearyour slightest look easily will unclose methough i have closed myself as fingers,you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first roseor if your wish be to close me, i andmy life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,as when the heart of this flower imaginesthe snow carefully everywhere descending;nothing which we are to perceive in this world equalsthe power of your intense fragility:whose texturecompels me with the color of its countries,rendering death and forever with each breathing(i do not know what it is about you that closesand opens;only something in me understandsthe voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands
One of the things that I always love about cummings's poetry is that it's always kind of like a puzzle. Poetry in general can tend to feel like that, but with cummings unraveling the puzzle is actually fun, rather than torturous. He does a lot of fun things with sound and imagery, all while making something that is beautiful and true. I think it's really a gift to be able to combine these aspects and still produce something meaningful.
So why do I like this particular poem? Why does anybody like any poem, really? I like the cadence of it - there is a music in the phrasing that comes from the specific combination of words rather than any tricks of alliteration. The use of the rose is unique; roses are probably the most cliche thing to write about, but cummings seems to treat them differently, perhaps because the voice of the poem is the flower, rather than the "you." Generally we hear "your beauty is like a rose" or some such silliness, but here the voice says "I am a rose and you have power over me like the weather over a flower." The image of a rose opening and closing in response to an outer influence is just so powerful and so apt. How often do we say "lover, you have roses in your cheeks"? Not often. But how often are our moods completely influenced by those we love? Constantly. Those we love can be storms or fair days or a sad trickling rain to us, a concept that cummings seems to me to be portraying in this image. We are the roses.