“may my heart be open to little birds” by e.e.cummings

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

–ee cummings

A very straightforward poem , so much like cummings. Two images are interesting. The first one is , of course “the little birds” , a startlingly simple use of a “direct” kind of imagery but very effective. Cummings is obviously talking about the thousand and one little things of life we tend to ignore in our lives which give us so much happiness .The birds bring to your mind the vigorous and fleeting nature of their movement and the way they enter their nests and fly out of them , their little bodies perpetually in movement. These are the real secrets of life and their singing is better to hear than knowledge .If you do not hear them you have grown old..The second ,not so important image is the poet’s mind strolling about hungry and fearless -even if it is sunday may I be wrong meaning the Sunday morals and religion should not blind you to the interesting things of life .Whenever men are right they are not young .Apparently it is the religious righteousness that takes away the youthfulness of life distracting you from the various little happinesses of life.

“may myself do nothing usefully” is an amusing thought . The poet feels the essential worldliness of living as a useful member in the society and making a living robs you of the countless little pleasures of life, the little birds singing in your heart..He has been a fool who has “failed to pull all the sky over him with one smile”. .He has failed to resort to escapism(pulling all the sky over him) in his pursuit of the material successes and in the process failed to take notice of the little birds.

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3 comments on ““may my heart be open to little birds” by e.e.cummings

  1. Genie says:

    ““may myself do nothing usefully” is an amusing thought . The poet feels the essential worldliness of living as a useful member in the society and making a living robs you of the countless little pleasures of life, the little birds singing in your heart..He has been a fool who has “failed to pull all the sky over him with one smile”. .He has failed to resort to escapism(pulling all the sky over him) in his pursuit of the material successes and in the process failed to take notice of the little birds.”

    You have deep insight into the inner meaning and symbolism of this poem.

  2. nisheedhi says:

    Thanks,Genie for your comments

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