ENG 125 Introduction to Literature
Instructor: Katie Newbanks
Buffalo Bill’s Defunct
E.E. Cumming’s,” Buffalo Bill’s Defunct” is a somewhat difficult poem to interpret. The poem displays peculiarities of sound structure, as well as line and stanza. What we don’t see, in this poem, is as vital to our understanding of the poem, as what we do see. “ Buffalo Bill’s Defunct” is an extremely short poetic piece consisting of only eleven lines and is a free verse, open form classification of poetry in reference to mortality. The poem can also be considered as onomatopoeia in nature due to the utilization of words to represent sound. The nature of the poem is also based on a centralized protestation of death of an individual that provided enjoyment to the lives of others. Example: how do you like your blueeyed boy Mister Death. Cummings sarcastically refers to “blueeyed boy” as simply another deceased person, as opposed to his earlier depiction of Buffalo Bill’s appearance as a “handsome man” with many accomplishments in life. My interpretation of the poem is that he appears to be saying to Mister Death ”You took him, but you’re not going to get any enjoyment from doing so.” Cummings is essentially blaming Mister Death and insinuates to him that he will give Buffalo Bill new life. There were many composites of this particular poem that captured my attention at the very beginning of the analysis. The particular style of wording of the poem (structurally) suggests to me an arrowhead. This is significant as in life Buffalo Bill, a frontier scout was associated with Native Americans and was a wild west outlaw. The unconventional syntax, style of language, and lack of punctuation also attracted my attention to the poem. Cummings also uses eccentric topography and word arrangement in his work. Example: The word Defunct, (line 2) is...