First, I am still soliciting poems from anyone who might have a poem in mind that they'd like to see discussed here. Thanks to everyone who took the time to suggest their favorite poems. I'm planning to cover many of the suggestions.
Today, I'm posting a poem suggested by a friendly reader at http://snazzycat.com/ordinarychica. (I was careful to spell it correctly :-) It's by e.e. cummings.
Form is at the heart of this poem. As chica pointed out, if you read everything between the parenthesis, you read "a leaf falls." The rest spells "oneliness." If you add the beginning "l" to the "oneliness--that is, everything not in parenthesis--you get "loneliness."
Man oh man. This poem is heartbreaking. Upon first reading, I thought, how clever. A nifty poetic device. But the more I read it, the more it got to me. The form illustrates falling, motion, slimness, even termination. The lines are long--not just the poem as a whole, but the letters in the poem--so many l's and f's. Long, even fluid lines, all leading down.
We are familiar with the image of falling leaves and the poignancy that creates. Poems are full of that image. But cummings is illustrating that poignancy in several ways. First, the words themselves: "a leaf falls loneliness" or "loneliness a leaf falls." It doesn't work well to read it that way does it? Second, in the long, lean lines; the downward fluidity of the poem as a whole created with the whole line, and the lines of the letters. Third, those parentheses! Parentheses are inherently exclusive. cummings illustrates loneliness by alienating that word from the rest of the poem. And fourth, although this list is by no means comprehensive, the title. l(a. Alienation and loneliness is inherent in the separation, the boundary, between those two letters.
The gentle, wind-carried fall of a leaf, traveling downward to meet its fate, which is, let's face it, death. The separation of the leaf from its home and companions. Fantastic poem.
Any other ideas about this poem? Feel free to comment with other insights--I'd love to hear your ideas.