E.E. Cummings

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] by E.E Cummings

Here is an analysis of E.E. Cummings’ love poem ‘i carry your heart with me(i carry it in’. Edward Estlin Cummings was an American writer, artist, and poet who became known for his unusual uses of capitalization and punctuation. At the time of his death in 1962, Cummings had written nearly 3000 poems, making him one of the most prolific and notable American poets of the twentieth century. Many of his poems have themes of both love and nature, and this poem, beloved by all who favor romantic poems, is no exception.

I Carry Your Heart With Me by E.E Cummings


In short, ‘i carry your heart with me(i carry it in’ is a love poem in which the speaker is telling his beloved that wherever he goes, he always carries his lover’s heart with him.

In the poem, the speaker is talking directly to his muse, referring to her as “my darling” and “my dear.” Throughout the poem, the speaker is telling his lover how much he loves and adores her, telling her that she is his fate and his entire world. The poem is rich in imagery, with lines such as “and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart,” leaving an indelible mark on the reader.

Analysis of i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

‘i carry your heart with me(i carry it in’ is relatively short in length; it is comprised of four stanzas of varying length. The work is filled with many poetic devices, from imagery to repetition.

Stanza One

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

The first stanza is written as one long, run-on sentence. It contains four lines, with the first line of the poem repeating the title, ‘i carry your heart with me(i carry it in’, before quickly moving into the second half of that line, “(i carry it in my heart).” The second part of the first line perfectly exhibits the unique freedom Cummings often takes in his poetry. It is worth noting here that Cummings frequently uses the pronoun I in this poem and each time it appears, it is lower case (In fact, Cummings does not capitalize a single letter in this poem). There are all sorts of theories as to why Cummings would not capitalize the pronoun, but one reason could be because he wanted to be on the same level as his beloved. Perhaps he thought capitalizing I would somehow elevate the speaker over his lover.

It is also interesting to note the parenthesis that surrounds the second half of this line, almost as if the speaker is trying to protect his lover’s heart by encapsulating it within the parenthesis. The speaker, who is talking directly to his beloved, goes on to tell her that he is never without her heart. In fact, he emphasizes this by again employing parentheses. He writes, “(anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling).” The lack of punctuation in the stanza supports the unity between the speaker and his lover, and he again seems to be cradling her heart carefully in between the parentheses. The speaker is also revealing to his darling that she is the reason behind all that he does. In essence, he does everything for her, and because of her.

Stanza Two

 i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

The second stanza of ‘i carry your heart with me(i carry it in’ is a continuation of the first, with the speaker waxing on about how much he is in love. The first line simply says, “I fear,” which is directly contradicted with the next line; the first half reads “no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet).” This provides a surprise to the reader, who assumed the speaker would begin to discuss all that he fears about his love. On the contrary, the speaker confesses there is nothing he fears.

Cummings again writes in a long, run-on sentence, continuing that line with another set of parentheses: “for beautiful you are my world, my true).” The sentence keeps going for the remainder of the stanza: “and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant/and whatever a sun will always sing is you.” This last section of the stanza contains beautiful imagery: the speaker is telling his lover that whatever the moon means, it has always been for her, and the sun’s song is sung for her, as well. Note Cummings’ use of personification with the sun, who is singing his song to the speaker’s beloved.

The speaker seems to be telling his lover that all that is good and beautiful in the world has been made for her and her alone. He also confesses that there is fears nothing and wants nothing because she is his everything. Cummings’ syntax is also worth examining in this stanza. Normally, using a word such as “whatever” in any creative piece is frowned upon. However, it works perfectly in conjunction with the rest of Cummings’ poetic style.

Stanza Three

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

The third stanza of the poem is drastically different from the first two, with Cummings utilizing repetition throughout the entire five-line stanza. He starts off almost tantalizing his reader: “here is the deepest secret nobody knows.” The other lines of the stanza, however, are fairly ambiguous, leaving the reader to wonder just what this deepest secret is.

Perhaps the first two stanzas represent the secret to which the speaker refers in the third stanza. Perhaps the speaker’s love is this secret, which is also replicated in nature. The speaker refers to a tree called life, which grows higher than the soul can hope of the mind can hide. So high, too, is the love of the speaker. Just as life and nature go on for infinity, so does his love. Whatever the immeasurable thing is in nature that keeps things growing and living, that keeps the stars apart from each other, it is the same as what lies in the heart of our speaker.

Stanza Four

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

The poem ends almost the same way it begins: “i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart),” which brings the work back full circle and simplifies all that was just discussed in the third stanza. The speaker waxes on about nature and the universe, but in the end, all that matters is the simple idea that he is in love and he carries his beloved with him wherever he goes.

Historical Context

Historically, this poem has little bearing. Cummings wrote it in 1952, so perhaps this was a gift to his third wife, the model Marion Morehouse.

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Jamie Jenson Poetry Expert
Jamie joined the Poem Analysis team back in November, 2010. He has a passion for poetry and enjoys analysing and providing interpretations for poetry from the past and present.
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