Poetry Corner

[Since feeling is first]

By E. E. Cummings

since feeling is first

who pays any attention

to the syntax of things

will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool

while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,

and kisses are a better fate

than wisdom

lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry

—the best gesture of my brain is less than

your eyelids’ flutter which says

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

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 16, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this poem: “[since feeling is first]” appeared in Is 5 (Boni and Liveright, 1926).

E. E. Cummings, 1943

About this poet: Born Edward Estlin Cummings in 1894, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cummings was a poet, essayist, novelist, and playwright from the Modernist movement. The poet and critic Randall Jarrell once noted that Cummings is “one of the most individual poets who ever lived—and, though it sometimes seems so, it is not just his vices and exaggerations, the defects of his qualities, that make a writer popular. But, primarily, Mr. Cummings’s poems are loved because they are full of sentimentally, of sex, of more or less improper jokes, of elementary lyric insistence.”

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