“Saints and sinners, go your way, youth and maidens, let us pray”

~ by E. E. Cummings

annie died the other day
never was there such a lay
whom, among her dollies, dad
first — ‘don’t tell your mother’ — had
making annie slightly mad
but very wonderful in bed
saints and sinners, go your way
youth and maidens, let us pray


E. E. Cummings is using “mad,” though not to mean angry exactly. But rather in the old sense of disturbed, unhinged or disordered. It is my belief Cummings is using a sort of fictionalized “speaker” in the poem, one who is thoroughly cynical, and one who tolerates sex abuse as if it were part of our natural condition. I’d like to think Cummings is depicting this cynicism satirically, and thus speaking out against Annie’s victimization by her incestuous father.

This piece is in the form of the epitaph, i.e., a summation of an entire life course, brief enough to be inscribed on a headstone. Yet, in this case, a mock-epitaph. A cruel fanciful joke, as no one would inscribe this, except as men’s room graffiti.


Author: MDM

Michael Dennis Mooney is a student of humor and witticism in verse. At this site he is compiling a selection of the best works using extended metaphor in poetry, with a special interest in satire, parody, and humor. Suggestions are welcome. Send your citations of favorites, by email, to mike.mooney.home@gmail.com He has a site "New Writings" at http://jcbcast.blogspot.com And a site for essays, 'His Epistles To The Philistines" at http://tothephilistines.wordpress.com

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