26 Famous E.E. Cummings Poems (Free Printables)


E.E. Cummings has a special place in American poetry. The poet published 2,900 poems and helped define modern poetry. Cummings’ poems were influenced by the events he lived through—including both World Wars and the Great Depression—and he put his opinions, emotions, and personality into his poems as he experimented with words, language, punctuation, and spacing.

The E.E. Cummings poems below are a small sample of his work, but they give students an idea of how he changed poetry, his ideas on love and life, and how to analyze poetry that uses every aspect of the genre.

Get the full text of each poem as a free printable to use with your students by filling out the form on this page.

Who was E.E. Cummings?

Albertin, Walter, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Edward Estlin Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1894. He started writing poems as a child, and between ages 8 and 22 he wrote one poem each day. While at Harvard, he was influenced by avant-garde writers like Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound. He worked as an ambulance driver in World War I and was interned in a French prison camp. These experiences shaped his strong anti-war sentiments.

After the war, Cummings split his time between New Hampshire and Greenwich Village in New York. He also traveled frequently to Europe and was familiar with the great artists of the time. His poetry started to be widely read in the 1920s, and he became known for experimenting with form, punctuation, spelling, and structure. He was popular in his time, especially among younger readers. When he died in 1962, he was the second-most-read poet in the United States (after Robert Frost).

Learn more about E.E. Cummings’ life in this video:

26 Famous E.E. Cummings Poems

Here are all the E.E. Cummings poems that are in the public domain for reference, and below is a list of 26 E.E. Cummings poems, which you can access and print by filling out the form on this page. Note his unconventional use of spacing and capitalization.

Next to Of Course God America

next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims' and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn's early my
country ’tis of centuries come and go ...

next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn’s early my
country ’tis of centuries come and go …

An important poem for students to read today, this poem talks both about loving your country and pointing out when it does something wrong and holding it responsible.

The Cambridge Ladies Who Live in Furnished Souls

they believe in Christ and Longfellow, both dead,
are invariably interested in so many things—
at the present writing one still finds
delighted fingers knitting for the is it Poles?

This poem is a criticism of New England women who seem too stiff and proper. He thinks they are old-fashioned and too traditional. Students can debate Cummings’ portrayal of these women, and if there are any groups that might fit his description today.

Buffalo Bill’s

A poem about the iconic American figure, “Buffalo Bill” is one of the most experimental when it comes to using spaces to communicate meaning, pace, and tone. Just the beginning lines, “Buffalo Bill’s defunct,” are interesting—why defunct and not dead?

Spring Is Like a Perhaps Hand

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare …

This poem is a good introduction to Cummings’ work. It’s about spring, something that students have experience with, and has the hallmark creative capitalization, punctuation, and spacing to show how Cummings approaches the topic of spring.

I Have Found What You Are Like

i have found what you are like
the rain.
(Who feathers frightened fields
with the superior dust-of-sleep. wields …

Here, Cummings compares rain and a woman’s smile, using personification and lots of description. This poem is an introspective work for Cummings. An example of how he shifted from playful to contemplative in his later career.

O Sweet Spontaneous

O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have 
the 
doting
 fingers of
prurient philosophers pinched ...- E.E. Cummings poems

O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have
the
doting
fingers of
prurient philosophers pinched …

A poem about nature, with lines that are broken up and fragmented. This poem is great for reading aloud and practicing how to deliver poetry. O Sweet Spontaneous is about our search for knowledge. Study how Cummings uses personification to express his message.

She Being Brand

she being Brand

-new;and you
know consequently a
little stiff i was
careful of her and(having …

In a change of pace for Cummings in terms of theme, this poem explains a ride in a car. Examine the narrative structure that’s created through prose and sentence fragments. And talk about how Cummings’ work reflected the importance of urbanism, industry, and technology. Also, consider what cars must have seemed like for Cummings, who lived when they were just starting to take over the roads.

My Sweet Old Etcetera

my sweet old etcetera
aunt lucy during the recent

war could and what
is more did tell you just
what everybody was fighting

for,
my sister …

Another poem about war, this is a satirical critique of what happens in society during wartime. Cummings was strongly anti-war, and this poem examines people who accepted war while ignoring its horrors. During the time Cummings lived, he was part of an anti-war sentiment among intellectuals and artists.

In Just-

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman …

Cummings is known for his playful poetry, and this is a great example of how much fun he had with his poems. The informal language, capitalization, and imagery of children playing in spring are inherently playful. In terms of studying, this E.E. Cummings poem is a good one for beginners as it’s pretty straightforward.

It Is at Moments After I Have Dreamed

it is at moments after i have dreamed
of the rare entertainment of your eyes,
when(being fool to fancy)i have deemed

with your peculiar mouth my heart made wise …

Another poem about love, this one reflects on the ethereal beauty of love and dreams.

A Man Who Had Fallen Among Thieves

a man who had fallen among thieves
lay by the roadside on his back
dressed in fifteenthrate ideas
wearing a round jeer for a hat …

This E.E. Cummings poem starts with a story of a man who has been robbed and left by the side of the road. While others pass him by, one man stops to help. Use this poem to talk about what Cummings thought of social justice and the plight of marginalized people. Read this within the context of the Great Depression.

All in Green Went My Love Riding

All in green went my love riding
on a great horse of gold
into the silver dawn.

All in green went my love riding
on a great horse of gold
into the silver dawn.

In this poem, Cummings creates a scene with a knight, horse, dogs, and deer. The language in this poem is more archaic than other poems. It’s also more traditional, so it’s an interesting poem to read as you’re studying Cummings’ poems.

Since Feeling Is First

we are for each other:then
laugh,leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

Another love poem, this one celebrates the emotion of love that often overtakes thoughts. It’s a good one to read alongside other Cummings poems that are about love to show how his understanding of love evolves over time and the themes he keeps coming back to. Also, for a poet who uses so many parentheses, it’s interesting to see him mention parenthesis in the final line.

(Let Us Tremble)a Personal Radiance Sits

(let us tremble)a personal radiance sits
hideously upon the trafficking hum
of dusk …

In this poem, Cummings creates a night scene ripe for analysis of word choice and imagery (“murdering coolness,” “drollsnowing delirium”).

5

derbies-with-men-in-them smoke Helmar
cigarettes 2
play backgammon,3 watch …

This poem is a great example of Cummings’ playful voice and how he uses spacing and text to literally play with words. Analyze the cultural references that Cummings makes in this poem to discuss how he was a poet of his time.

A Wind Has Blown the Rain Away

a wind has blown the rain away and blown
the sky away and all the leaves away,
and the trees stand. I think i too have known
autumn too long

“A Wind Has Blown the Rain Away” is a description of autumn and all the movement and change that comes with the season. Cummings connects autumn to leaving someone you love. The repetition of the image of trees at the end talks of what remains permanent.

Among These Red Pieces

Among

these
red pieces of
day(against which and
quite silently hills
made of blueandgreen paper …

The use of color and how Cummings arranges the lines, punctuation, and spacing are all quintessential Cummings. In addition to how Cummings weaves English and Italian to create the scene, students can discuss how the dashes and parentheses affect how we read the poem.

As Is the Sea Marvelous

as is the sea marvelous
from god’s
hands which sent her forth
to sleep upon the world

This poem is another of Cummings’ odes to love and relationships. This time, he uses the metaphor of an ocean and waves to explore the impact of love.

Death Is More Than

death is more than
certain a hundred these 
sounds crowds odours it 
is in a hurry ...- E.E. Cummings poems

death is more than
certain a hundred these
sounds crowds odours it
is in a hurry …

A poem about life and death in America. Like most Cummings poems, this one has to be analyzed in its entirety as each stanza and line bleeds into the next one.

Here Is Little Effie’s Head

here is little Effie’s head
whose brains are made of gingerbread
when the judgement day comes
God will find six crumbs

In this poem, a narrator describes what happens to Effie’s body after her death. Only Cummings could write about death and dissection and make it feel like a nursery rhyme, using his playful way with words. Like Robert Frost’s poem “Out Out,” this poem will surprise students and make them think differently about what poetry can do.

Humanity I Love You

Humanity i love you
because you would rather black the boots of
success than enquire whose soul dangles from his
watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both …

Here, the narrator explores the good and bad about humanity. He starts thinking that he loves humanity but ends hating humanity. This is a great example of how Cummings wrote about society and his views on how what society valued was not exactly what we should focus on.

It’s Jolly

it’s jolly
odd what pops into
your jolly tête when the
jolly shells begin dropping jolly fast you
hear the rrmp and
then nearerandnearerandNEARER …

“It’s Jolly” uses juxtaposition of the word jolly, which even sounds happy, with dark images like shells dropping and an overall sarcastic tone. You can imagine how Cummings’ experience in war influenced this poem and how he must have felt when writing it.

Little Tree

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

“Little Tree” is an unexpected muse for Cummings—it’s about a Christmas tree, all decorated and put on display. It’s interesting to think about what literal and figurative meanings the tree could have for Cummings.

SNO

a white idea(Listen

drenches:earth’s ugly)mind.
,Rinsing with exact death

the annual brain
clotted with loosely voices …

A description of winter and a meditation on how we think. This poem is another great example of how Cummings mixed punctuation, parentheses, words, and images to create a whirlwind of a poem.

Supposing I Dreamed This

supposing i dreamed this)
only imagine,when the day has thrilled
you are a house around which
I am a wind—- E.E. Cummings poems

supposing i dreamed this)
only imagine,when the day has thrilled
you are a house around which
I am a wind—

Another of Cummings poems about love, this one describes the narrator as a wind and the loved one as a house. Read this poem alongside other Cummings’ poems about love to compare the imagery and how it changes.

Ta

ta
ppin
g
toe

A poem with few words and letters or punctuation, in this case about a hippopotamus. But there’s a lot to think about in terms of how Cummings laid out each letter and line on the page.

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Now that students are intrigued by poetry, here are 24 famous poets students should know.



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