21 pages 42 minutes read

E. E. Cummings

[love is more thicker than forget]

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1939

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The Contradictions of Love

Although often criticized for being sentimental, even naïve, and adopting the naïve perspective of a child, Cummings here explores a most complicated and very adult perception of love. This is no simplistic celebration of the wonder of love. Love here is not simply one thing or another; it is neither joyful or tragic: rather it is a both, not an either/or. Love is joyful tragedy and tragic joy. It is an emotion that resists definition.

Far from being frustrated or flummoxed by love’s elusiveness, the speaker embraces those contradictions and abdicates entirely the idea that such an emotion could be contained in any single perception. In turn, the poem extends to the reader the opportunity to accept love as wonderfully painful and painfully wonderful. Both elements of the definition emerge as the best words can to capture the reality of an emotion that seems so entirely itself and its opposite.

Thus, love is both unforgettable and easily forgotten; it is a careless and reckless condition and the utmost expression of sanity; it is momentary and fleeting and permanent and abiding; it is great in its impact yet starts as nothing, a side glance, a chance encounter, a moment in the right place at the right time; it is everywhere, available for any open and vulnerable heart, and yet it is so rare that many go through life assuming it is not for them.