I’ve started my second year of college this week and already my literature teacher has captivated my attention with what looked to be a cryptic foreign language meant to be deciphered. It was none other than E.E Cummings poem r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r which I’ve included below:
Like most of my class, it hardly looks like a poem. When asked by our professor why it didn’t seem like poetry hands were raised and answers like “There aren’t any stanzas or rhyme schemes.” and “There’s no meaning.”
Quite contrary to what we thought, there indeed was meaning to the text and while an avid discussion was going on about American literature being a form of experimentation and positive chaos of rules, I stared at the board trying to decipher the meaning of it all. I believed it to be a poetic form of the DaVinci Code, an intellectually stimulating challenge I needed to solve.
And the answer did present itself on looking closely and thinking about the sense of punctuation and spatial arrangement.
Do you want to know what it says?
“Grasshopper, who, as we look, now up gathering into himself, leaps, arriving to become, rearrangingly, a grasshopper.”
It’s a discursive imagist poem, very unconventional and possesses great philosophical meaning if you look closely. Cummings displaces the ‘r’ from its terminal position, creating a sense of movement with his usage of rearrangement and punctuation, mimicking the movement of a grasshopper. Clearly, this literary piece, not necessarily literature was written for academic readers not laymen.
This is why literature is one of the most fascinating subjects in the world, is it not?