E. E. Cummings


Here's a well-known poem by E. E. Cummings, with no title other than its first line. It would be interesting to discuss it in terms of its diction and -- especially -- its tone. What tone do you hear in the speaker's "voice"? How would the tone be different if "dead" was substituted for "defunct"?

Incidentally, the poem seems to be alluding to the Wild West Show that Buffalo Bill Cody travelled around with in his later life. So the "pigeons" that he breaks are what? Not real birds but . . . ?

 	Buffalo Bill's
 	       who used to
 	       ride a watersmooth-silver
 	and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
 	he was a handsome man
 	                     and what i want to know is
 	how do you like your blueeyed boy
 	Mister Death

Cummings composed for the typewriter, and indeed one authoritative edition of his works reproduces the typewriter look of his poems as does the above.

How would you choose to try to render by your voice the visual, typewriter-spacing effects above? Can they be spoken? If not, are they illusory?