Anyone lived in a pretty how town

Anyone lived in a pretty how town

"anyone lived in a pretty how town" is a poem written by e.e. cummings. First published in 1940, the poem details the lives of residents in a nameless town.cite web|title=anyone lived in a pretty how town at NYU's Literature, Arts and Medicine Database|url=|publisher=New York University|accessdate=September 20|accessyear=2006] Like much of Cummings's work, the poem is actually untitled, so critics use the first line to refer to the poem. Cummings often wrote in a manner that did not follow standard English syntax and punctuation. This style is evident in the poem's first line, which is written in all lowercase letters and contains the unlikely phrase 'pretty how town'.


Central to an adequate understanding of this poem is the realization that there are, in fact, only two main characters: anyone and noone. Despite the implication of their names, they are the "only" characters who have uniqueness and individuality. Cummings emphasizes this difference by describing the actions of anyone and noone in relation to the conformist townspeople around them. Anyone "danced his did" and "dream [t] his sleep" while the monotonous townfolk "did their dance" and "slept their dream." Not only do the "someones" and "everyones" of the town exhibit no individuality, they also spawn numerous repetitive generations, evidenced by the line, "they reaped their same." But worse even than the adults are the poor kids who, with the imagination of youth, realized the love between anyone and noone: "children guessed...that noone loved him more by more", but, being raised in a conformist world, were forced to adopt the views, or lack thereof, of their parents: "down they forgot as up they grew." The poem ends with the death of anyone. The townspeople only acknowledge his death insofar as they bury his body, but the griefstricken noone mourns his passing and is buried with him. The two then find further love after their burials, more in death than the townsfolk ever knew in life. The townspeople then go on with their lives, day after day, season after season: "summer autumn winter spring", never remembering what they had discovered at youth: that life and love are purely individual.

Metaphorical meaning

The metaphorical meaning is symbolic of everyday life. Anyone, really could be anyone. The character is full of life, “he sang his didn’t he danced his did” (4). However, society doesn’t appreciate anyone (both the character and any one person). This is shown by the line, “they cared for anyone not at all”(6). Since the society cares about nobody but himself or herself, they don’t live fulfilled lives; "they said their nevers they slept their dreams”(20). Meanwhile, anyone and no-one care about each other “no-one loved him more by more”(13). This can be taken in a variety of ways: either no-one is nonexistent or no-one is really just like anyone. There is also another couple in the poem- someone's and everyone's. They serve as exact opposites of anyone and no-one. Those characters lived unfulfilled lives. They just pretend, “ [they] laughed their cryings and did their dance”(18). They are also hopeless; “They said their nevers and slept their dreams”(20). When no-one and anyone die, life goes on as usual; “busy folk buried them side by side”(27). No one cared, so life went on. Yet, even in death no-one and anyone were better off because they weren’t as self-centered, “and more by more they dream their sleep/no-one and anyone earth by April/wish by spirit and if by yes” (30/32).Fact|date=March 2007


The author used repetition to show the effects of time. In the poem, Cummings states the lines, “spring summer autumn winter,”(3) and “sun moon stars rain,”(8) repeatedly. Cummings did this to show the passage of time. In repeating these lines he changes the order of the seasons or celestial images, “autumn winter spring summer,”(11) and “stars rain sun moon,”(21).


name = Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town

caption =
imdb_id = 0061362
amg_id =
director = George Lucas
writer = George Lucas E. E. Cummings Paul Golding
starring = John Strawbridge
Nancy Yates
Lance Larson
producer =
music = Lynton B. Eckhart
cinematography= George Lucas
release = |1967 distributor = |University of Southern California runtime = |6 min. language = English

The poem was adapted into a short film by George Lucas.cite web|url=|title=anyone lived in a pretty (how) town at the USC School of Cinema-Television|publisher=University of Southern California|accessdate=September 20|accessyear=2006]


External links

* [ Full text of the poem at]

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