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Written by E.E. Cummings Analyzed by Tyler Denmark


ave you ever wanted to change the world? In E. E. Cummings poem “If,” he describes how the world works and how much it affects our lives without us even knowing about it. He uses comparisons to show how much different we would be if the world wasn’t like it is now. Cummings talks about how the world should stay the way it is now, how the hardships made us into us, and how wishing for things is a losing battle. In “If,” Cummings says that the world needs to stay the way it is because if it changed, we would change and not be ourselves anymore. When he says, “For if here was there/We wouldn’t be we,” he shows us that we would change our lives if we tried to change the way the world operates right now. E. E. also talks about how our struggles in life and throughout history have shaped our lives and the lives of those around us. He says that we needed to go through these tough times to make us stronger and prepare us for the next obstacle. “And measles were nice and a lie warn’t a lie,/Life would be delight-/ But things couldn’t go right/For in such a sad plight/I wouldn’t be I.” This clearly shows that if the terrible things in life like measles and lies were actually good, everything would be different for you and the rest of the world. Another point E. E. brings up is

If freckles were lovely, and day was night, And measles were nice and a lie warn’t a lie, Life would be delight,— But things couldn’t go right For in such a sad plight I wouldn’t be I. If earth was heaven and now was hence, And past was present, and false was true, There might be some sense But I’d be in suspense For on such a pretense You wouldn’t be you. If fear was plucky, and globes were square, And dirt was cleanly and tears were glee Things would seem fair,— Yet they’d all despair, For if here was there We wouldn’t be we. that if you go through life just wishing for everything, its like running on a treadmill, you’ll never get anywhere. Cummings says “If earth was heaven and now was hence,/And past was present, and false was true,/ There might be some sense/But I’d be in suspense/For on such a pretense/You wouldn’t be you” to show us that wishing for the world to be perfect would change us for the worst, and that you can’t go through life just wishing for everything, you have to go out and get whatever it is you’re seeking in life. Cummings uses his usual unique writing style and descriptive comparisons to show us how much different we would be if we tried to change our world, and how that would be a bad thing. He gives us many things to take away from this poem, but the most important are that we shouldn’t change our world, we should just grit our teeth through the tough times, and that we shouldn’t go through life wishing for good things to happen. These are things that can improve our world dramatically, that everyone in the world can do, and they require just a little bit of self control and determination.

Poem 14