In the spirit of Valentine’s Day…

Ah, love poems! Always good to have one on hand, am I right? Whether you’re attempting to woo a new lover or impress your current flame, knowing one or two (good ones) won’t hurt your chances.

[love is more thicker than forget]
e.e. cummings
love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail
it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea
love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive
it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky
This is a tightly formed poem with an ABAB rhyme scheme, with a repeating pattern of the words “love” “more” “less” in stanzas 1 & 3 and “it and than is” in stanzas 2 & 4. According to The Making of a Poem, this poem could be classified as a typical ballad, with the first and third lines of each stanza in iambic tetrameter (4 stresses) and the second and fourth lines of each stanza in iambic trimeter (3 stresses).
The tone of the poem bounces back and forth, with the speaker saying that it is both “mad and moonly” and “sane and sunly,” that it “shall unbe” yes also “cannot die.” The speaker is pointing out that love can take many different forms, big or small, thick or thin, long-lasting or fleeting. It’s almost as if they are throwing their hands up in the air and saying, “Well, I’m not quite sure exactly what to say, but here’s the best I can come up with for right now.” Wow, thanks for the advice! It’s like asking a professor a specific question about the course and them directing you towards their hopelessly ambiguous syllabus.
I’m biting my tongue here but I think that ambiguity is the reason I love this poem so much. Because I hate when something as abstract as love is attempted to be defined, and I appreciate how the narrator is aware of this and makes it central to this poem. Poets are supposed to be great with words, but even cummings realizes that love can’t so easily be attributed to sweeping metaphors like the sea and the sky. Even these metaphors are vague in themselves, and offer no astounding insights. So I feel as though this poem is a play on all those ideas that have been presented time and time again on love.  It’s wonderfully chaotic, yet tightly structured in it’s form. It’s all over the place and unsure of itself, like going on a blind date, and for that reason it is one of my most favorite love poems.

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