Posted by: forgingahead | January 21, 2009

e. e. cummings

I happened upon an e. e. cummings quote this morning that made me pause and reflect.

To be nobody-but-yourself-in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else— means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

There’s something in here that resonates with where we’re at as a nation. Taking individual responsibility for how we use resources, walk on the earth, treat each other, manage our money.

I overheard a neighbor the other day saying these words. “It’s the banks fault for not looking at my tax returns…they should have known I couldn’t make these payments.”


Then, of course, I went to my favorite online resource ever, Wikipedia, to learn more. And found these gems…

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel …the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.

My dressage trainer Anke was just talking about this very thing the other day. How she can coach a student into doing certain things — “heels down, hands together, sit tall” — but she can’t teach the feeling of the horse responding to a certain way of riding. That’s the magic.

And then there’s this one which, yes I realize, is *ironic*…here I am using his exact words.

Nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time —and whenever we do it, we are not poets.

I’ll resume my poetic musings tomorrow. Promise.

“A Poet’s Advice to Students” in E. E. Cummings, a Miscellany: A Miscellany (1958), edited by George James Firmage, p. 13



  1. That may have been a little too deep before my coffee….

  2. Love the e.e.cummings quote. Sooo good!

  3. Love the quote. I think it may need to be my motto for awhile. Thanks!

  4. i really love that first ee cummings quote because that is how life feels and is. Being one’s self is probably one of the hardest things since the world is attempting to squish it out of us.

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