The Weekly Verse: maggie and milly and molly and may by E.E. Cummings

The Weekly Verse: One poem per week.

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

I love me some E.E. Cummings, don’t you? I read this poem and I can practically smell the ocean. I like the not-quite rhyme pattern, the uneven meter, the characteristic unconventional punctuation and capitalization; they keep the reader a little off-balance. Maggie and Milly find nice things, Molly does not, and May finds a stone with maybe my favorite description of anything in poetry: “as small as a world and as large as alone.” The last line makes me think about the sweet and friendly and horrible and sad, profound things the girls find on their excursion and how they could symbolize who we are as human beings as a whole. Children going to the beach is such an innocent premise, but I think the poem is deceptively deep.


Meghan has noticed that many of her favorite things in life start with the letter B - books, blogging, bacon, bitching, and (craft) beer. She lives in Chicago where she indulges regularly in all of these things. Kurt Vonnegut and David Mitchell are her literary baes. Sometimes she tweets random thoughts as @socomeslove.

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