E. E. Cummings' "i thank You God for most this amazing"

Updated on October 6, 2017
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

E. E. Cummings



Cummings' innovative poetic style has given rise to the myth that the poet was a great social rebel. However, his values remained quite mainstream, and his disposition was much more spiritual than the main of the mainstream.

Cummings' use of the lower case "i" in the first person pronoun was prompted by a sense of humility; he was more apt to capitalize the other personal pronouns than the one referring to himself.

Poet E. E. Cummings was born Edward Estlin Cummings on October 14, 1894, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His father, Edward Cummings, was a professor of sociology and political science at Harvard University, but he abandoned the professoriate in 1900 and became an ordained minister of the South Congregational Church, in Boston.

The younger Cummings attended Harvard University and graduated in 1915 with a B.A. in English and classical studies. He also completed his M.A. at Harvard in 1916. At Harvard, Cummings came under the spell of modernism and the avant-garde, including the ultimate modernist Gertrude Stein.

But ultimately for Cummings, the only real departure from traditional values was his style, particularly his orthographic alterations.

Cummings' use of unusual grammatical structures has given Cummings a reputation for rebelliousness that he does not actually deserve.

E. E. Cummings' signature



Cummings accepted the basic tenets of his father's religious faith, and even produced poems that are inspired by the transcendentalist philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Cummings' spirituality is best experienced through his sonnet, "i thank You God for most this amazing." This sonnet is clearly an innovative variation of a Shakespearean sonnet. It consists of three quatrains and a couplet with a Elizabethan rime scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.

Poem: "i thank You God for most this amazing"

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of allnothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Commentary on "i thank You God for most this amazing"

First Quatrain: "i thank You God for most this amazing"

In the first quatrain, the speaker is thanking God for the beauty of nature, particularly the trees and sky, but also for "for everything / which is natural which is infinite which is yes." The speaker is thanking God for all that is positive.

Second Quatrain: "(i who have died am alive again today"

The second quatrain acknowledges the spiritual concept of reincarnation when the speaker declares, "i who have died am alive again today." Then immediately he brings things back to earth by asserting that today is "the sun's birthday," as everyday is, of course.

The speaker celebrates "life and love and wings" incorporating spirituality along with nature.

Third Quatrain: "how should tasting touching hearing seeing"

Remembering that this sonnet is also a prayer, the reader faces a question: how can a human being actually reflect the greatness that is Yours, that is, God's?

The question takes up the entire quatrain as the speaker describes the human as "tasting touching hearing seeing / breathing"—a creature of sense awareness, who cannot perceive God through the senses, but nevertheless, can realize God through the soul.

Couplet: "(now the ears of my ears awake and"

The couplet reveals that the speaker becomes aware of God's presence through his inner senses of hearing and seeing: "(now the ears of my ears awake and / now the eyes of my eyes are opened)."

The poet has placed the more ethereal features of the sonnet in parentheses.

Cummings reading his "i thank You God for most this amazing"

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Linda Sue Grimes


    Submit a Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)