"I Carry Your Heart With Me," a poem by E.E. Cummings, was first published in June 1952. It made its first public appearance in Poetry magazine. As a contemporary poet, Cummings plays with the established styles of poetry for the benefit of meaning and aesthetics. It is important to note the aesthetics of his poetry play a role in the message being delivered, something which is clearly seen in this poem.
The structure of Cummings’ poem is not conventional and is free verse. It has three distinguishable stanzas and an additional final line that stands alone. However, what stands out the most about the structure and, as result, gives it an unconventional image is a connection between the first and second stanzas with line "i fear." It stands alone between the second and third stanzas, is an enjambment, and lies at the far right of the page. The poem also lacks the conventional capitalization of "i." The stylistic choices for this piece are certainly not frivolous.
The structure is not strict and does not adhere to any of the conventional formats of older poetry. Even the number of lines in each stanza varies. The poem also makes heavy use of parentheses. Inside each set, the speaker of the poem appears to be declaring additional feelings. Finally, the poem ends with a singular line very similar to the title. That is also not common in poetry. As evidenced throughout the poem, Cummings enjoyed playing with conventionality in structure. It is important to note, however, he does not do so lightly.
From the title alone, the reader should not expect to see a typical poem. Cummings sets out to break stereotypes of what a poem is or is not in this piece and does not waste a line, not even the title, in demonstrating it. Even from a glance over the poem, the reader will immediately be struck by the unique structure. This is important to allow the reader an open-minded approach as well as to demonstrate the feeling of the poem.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
The first two lines of the poem contain an enjambment, meaning the end of the first line goes into the beginning of the second line. This is something the reader will notice throughout the entire poem. This is a love poem and Cummings makes it obvious from the beginning that the speaker will declare his or her feelings. The beautiful words in the entire piece suggest there is a great unity between the person declaring love’s feelings to the person being declared to.
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,mydarling)
The unity between the speaker and the person the poem is addressed to is extremely clear from the first four lines of the poem, as well as the strong love the speaker feels. The fact the speaker carries the lover’s heart at all time, carrying it within his or her being, demonstrates a spirited bond. In addition, stating how anything the speaker does is the doing of the lover also shows it. This demonstrates the two work as one. The line "i fear" stands alone between the second and third stanzas and is an enjambment to the line, "no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want." The words in the parenthesis seem to be private thoughts that the speaker wants to share with the reader. These are innermost thoughts in addition to the feelings of love. They show the effect the object of affection has on the speaker. It is the type of love that allows healing, courage, and strength.
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 object of the speaker’s affection leaves want of nothing; there is nothing more to be asked for or desired. In short, this appears to be a love that trumps all other aspects of life. It is to the degree that it transcends this earthly world and reaches the heavens. It is an all-encompassing, all-powerful love.
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
These lines sum up how the speaker believes this love is the beginning, middle, and end. The feelings of the speaker are true and great and, as a result, the emotions give everything and more than a person, a soul, can ask for. The speaker appears to be happy and at peace with the affection felt toward the receiver. This love truly is everything. The poem ends with "i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)" which is similar to the first line in the poem. Within that one line, the unity is solidified in that the heart of the lover is "in" the heart of the speaker. This is meant to describe an ultimate closeness. The similarity of the first and last lines, in addition to the words written throughout, show unity from beginning to end.
The poem details a powerful, romantic love from start to finish. Even the structure demonstrates this by breaking old-fashioned rules but still managing to be clear. The sweet intention is not lost; if anything, it is strengthened by the unconventionality. It mirrors the words of strength and unity, lack of fear. Everything in the speaker’s life, including the soul, rests in this love and in the very being of the person meant to receive the message. The unique structure of the poem also serves to demonstrate the oneness of the love the speaker feels. In addition, it also shows how the beauty of the love knows no bounds. In other words, it is not restricted by any old rules or traditions. Just as the speaker is not restricted in life due to the courage his or her love provides.
The overarching themes of this piece are love, admiration, and fortitude. The admiration of the speaker is not just assumed because he or she is in love, it is also evident in the writing itself. The line "for beautiful you are my world,my true)" shows the high esteem in which the lover is held. All three themes interweave and work with each other to make the poem even more beautiful, rather than each theme standing alone. This adds coherency to the fourth theme seen in the poem, unity. Though it may not be as explicit in the lines when read, unity is definitely a very present topic throughout the piece.