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Analysis Of The Poem "The Cambridge Ladies Who Live In Furnished Souls"

947 words - 4 pages

The Cambridge ladies who live in furnished soulsare unbeautiful and have comfortable minds( also, with the church's protestant blessingsdaughters, un scented shapeless spirited)they believe in Christ and Longfellow, both deadare invariably interested in so many things_at the present writing one still findsdelighted fingers knitting for the is it Poles?Perhaps. While permanent faces coyly bandyscandal of Mrs. N and Professor D....the Cambridge ladies do not care, aboveCambridge if sometimes in its box ofsky lavender and cornerless, themoon rattles like a fragment of angry candyThe poet E.E.Cummings manages to escape any form of traditional response within the sonnet form. In "the Cambridge ladies" he describes with acrimony the upper class, pseudo-liberal, emotionally controlled inhabittants of Cambridge, MassachusettsHe experiments with a different rhyme scheme from the schemes of the two traditional sonnet forms. The poem, in an octave and a sestet, rhyme abcd dcba eeffee. Perhaps the enclosed nature of the rhyme scheme is created in this way not so much to depart from "tradition as to fit the subject matter", that is, the closed-minded Cambridge ladies who "have comfortable minds" and who "do not care" box themselves in through their lifestyle just as the rhyme scheme of the octave and the sestet boxes itself in.In the octave, cummings launches a frontal assault on many qualities and characteristics of the "ladies" :They live in "furnished souls" . By playing on the idea of furnished houses and juxtaposing the essential spirit of the soul with the vacuum to be filled of a house, the poet effectively attacks their way of life. Threadbare, worn-out, spoon-fed precepts dominate their souls just as accessories of unoriginal taste dominate a furnished house. Like a furnished house, the ladies do not choose the contents of their mind, but are filled out with prescribed thoughts.They are "unbeautiful" and possess " comfortable minds". Because they are so rigid and interchangeable, cummings prefers to call them, not hideous, but just "unbeautiful". Because they accept what has been handed down to them willingly, they own "comfortable minds".They have daughters who, like them, are "unscented shapeless spirited". Everything about them is unostentatious, having just the right amount of decorum and propriety. Their shapelessness, like their "comfortable" lives, is attributed to their lack of initiation into life. Ironically, they are sanctioned "with the church's Protestant blessings", because there they can meet in their Sunday best and reaffirm to each other that their lifestyle is perfect.They "believe in Christ and Longfellow, both dead" because both are fashionable (although hardly similar) heroes. Because of their predilection for just the appropriate Christian feelings, they find it right to espouse Christ. And because of Longfellow's stature as a good poet and a native of Cambridge, they find it right to support him....

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