Here’s a great reading by E.E. Cummings of his famous and widely anthologized poem, “anyone lived in a pretty how town.” The poem has a bittersweet quality, dealing with the loneliness of the individual amid the crushing conformity of society, but in a playful way, like a nursery rhyme with delightfully shuffled syntax. It is the story of “anyone,” who lived in “a pretty how town” and was loved by “noone.” With the author’s idiosyncratic omission of some spacing, capitalization and punctuation, the poem begins:
anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.
Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain
The poem was first published as “No. 29″ in Cummings’s 1940 collection 50 Poems. (Click here to open the full text of the poem in a new window.) The recording was made on May 28, 1953, when Cummings was a visiting professor at Harvard. It is available from HarperAudio as part of a one-hour collection, Essential E.E. Cummings.