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

Essay by nguyenhienUniversity, Bachelor's February 2006

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The Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls

are unbeautiful and have comfortable minds

( also, with the church's protestant blessings

daughters, un scented shapeless spirited)

they believe in Christ and Longfellow, both dead

are invariably interested in so many things_

at the present writing one still finds

delighted fingers knitting for the is it Poles?

Perhaps. While permanent faces coyly bandy

scandal of Mrs. N and Professor D.

...the Cambridge ladies do not care, above

Cambridge if sometimes in its box of

sky lavender and cornerless, the

moon rattles like a fragment of angry candy

The 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, Massachusetts

He 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...