e.e. cummings: may i feel said he

may i feel said he
(i’ll squeal said she
just once said he)
it’s fun said she

(may i touch said he
how much said she
a lot said he)
why not said she

(let’s go said he
not too far said she
what’s too far said he
where you are said she)

may i stay said he
(which way said she
like this said he
if you kiss said she

may i move said he
is it love said she)
if you’re willing said he
(but you’re killing said she

but it’s life said he
but your wife said she
now said he)
ow said she

(tiptop said he
don’t stop said she
oh no said he)
go slow said she

(cccome?said he
ummm said she)
you’re divine! said he
(you are Mine said she)

This poem, which was originally published in e.e. cumming‘s 1935 “No Thanks” collection, is a joyful tribute to sensuality and love.
It is dialogue between a man and a woman engaged in sexual intercourse, who convey the sense of their enjoyment in teasing each other, engaging in foreplay, and talking as well as touching. They move from the initial caresses, for which permission was asked, to orgasm.

In the sixth stanza, we discover that the two are lovers and the woman in the poem is not his wife, and in the last stanza after the woman emits a satisfied moan and the man exclaims “you’re divine!”, we find the only word with a capital letter. The capitalized “Mine”, which looks a bit aggressive, is a palpable way for the woman to express her possessiveness (and jealousy).

Throughout the poem the repeated use of parentheses gives the idea of enclosure, protection and intimacy.

Fauno e Baccante (fresco from the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, now in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples)
posso toccare disse lui
 (strillerò disse lei
 solo una volta disse lui)
 è divertente disse lei
 
(posso toccare disse lui
 quanto disse lei
 molto disse lui)
 perché no disse lei

 (andiamo disse lui
 non troppo lontano disse lei
  cosa è troppo lontano disse lui 
 dove sei tu disse lei)

 posso restare disse lui
 (in che modo disse lei
 in questo modo disse lui
 se tu baci disse lei
 
posso muovermi disse lui
 è amore disse lei)
 se tu vuoi, disse lui
 (ma stai uccidendo disse lei
 
ma è la vita disse lui
 ma tua moglie disse lei
 ora disse lui)
 ohh disse lei
 
(eccellente disse lui
 non fermarti disse lei
 oh no disse lui)
 vai piano disse lei

 (venuta? Disse lui
 ummm disse lei)
 sei divina! Disse lui
 (tu sei Mio disse lei)
 (L.Z.)

42 thoughts on “e.e. cummings: may i feel said he

  1. WOW !!!!!💋 HER INNOCENCE CAPTURED HIM BUT WAS SHE REALLY SWEET& INNOCENT?? DID SHE KNOW ?? YES .DEED DONE , NOW I OWN YOU . NARCISSIST !!!
    MY SMART ITALIAN HUBBY USED TO SAY: A STIFF – – – – HAS NO CONSCIENCE THATS HOW ABOUT HALF THE POPULATION GOT HERE .
    LUISA GREAT POST ,LOVED IT AND ENTERTAINING ALSO .💋

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with your analysis of the poem, and e. e. cummings was indeed a skilled poet. However, the general theme of infidelity presented as a cute/harmless game, is, I think, unfortunate. (Admittedly this is coming from a faithful wife of a faithful husband for over 47 years…) Reading well-written works like this one makes me think of C.S. Lewis’s comment that “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” ― C.S. Lewis

    Liked by 1 person

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