E. E. Cummings, an author known for his various poems and other forms of artwork, wrote numerous works of poetry over a vast amount of subjects. While the subject matter of the poems differ, a few elements of Cummings' style stays the same in virtually all his poems, some of which is important and some of which is not. The fact that Cummings uses enjambment in his poetry is a stylistic trademark that however annoying its use may be is consistent. Other stylistic trademarks of Cummings' poetry are that Cummings has a control over the tone of each of his poems and that each of his poems has its theme located near the end of the poem. While these traits that may not be highlighted in most of the analysis of his poems, each does occur quite frequently in his writing.
The poem If, by E. E. Cummings, explores the possibilities of the "if" type questions that are so often asked by those who seek to know why things are not pleasant are they are. Cummings answers the question in the last stanza of each line ("I wouldn't be I... You wouldn't be you... We wouldn't be we") which contributes a great deal to understanding the theme of the poem - that each of us are the products of all the wrong that has occurred in our lives.
Cummings begins developing his theme by introducing the main literary device of the poem - the use of paradox. Each stanza of the poem follows the pattern of presenting a question to the reader that asks what would happen if a normally unpleasant occurrence is portrayed as a pleasant one instead. The first stanza asks, "If freckles were lovely, and day was night, And measles were nice and a lie warn't a lie..." and concludes the thought by saying that "Life would be delight, -- But things couldn't go right For in such a sad plight" allowing the reader to see that things would indeed be vastly different from what they are normally seen as. Another vastly relevant line to giving the reader the ability to determine the theme of the poem is the...
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