This poem “The Cambridge Ladies” was written by Edward Estlin Cummings , who is often referred as E.E. Cummings. He is a famous American poet. He is a poet, painter, essayist and playwright. He has contributed nearly 2900 poems to English literature. He has written only 2 novels, that are autobiographical novels. He has also written 4 plays and some essays. His works includes “If I Believe”, “The Enormous Room”,” In the Rain”,” My Love”,etc.
ABOUT THE POEM:
This poem is in the form of fourteen line lyric — sonnet, with rhyme scheme abcd dcba eeffee. This poem was originally published without any title in Cummings first collection of poetry, “ Tulips and Chimneys”(1923). It includes three sub- divisions namely “Realities” ,” Unrealities” ,” Actualities”. This poem “ The Cambridge Ladies” was included in the first sub-division. Theme of this poem is satirical theme.
SUMMARY OF THE POEM:
Cambridge is a part of the city of Boston, where, Havard University is located. In this poem, the poet describes the nature of the ladies who are studying in Havard University. Throughout the poem , the poet mocks at the ladies of this university. He satires the artificial nature of those ladies.
The poet initiates the poem by stating,
Here, the poet states , one’s soul must be pure , but the ladies of cambridge university keep their soul as a ‘ decorative thing’. The poet compare their soul with lifeless objects. The souls of these ladies are furnished like the rooms of the house equipped with furniture.
In these lines, the poet comments that, the souls of the cambridge ladies are not at all beautiful but they comfort their minds by saying they are beautiful.
The poet compare these ladies with the daughters of protestants. ( protestant – those who worship inanimate object). Their souls are being juxtaposed with inanimate object.
Here, the poet notes that these ladies believe in ” Christ ” and ” Longfellow”.( Christ represents religion and spiritual life and Longfellow represents literature and intellectual life). Those ladies pretend as if they are so pious to god and they also pretend to be the lovers of the poetry. But the cambridge ladies are neither interested in spiritual life nor in intellectual life.
These ladies make as if they are interested in so many things, but in real, they have no deep knowledge about anything. They have never enhanced their knowledge with their university education. They only show much importance to their physical appearance.
The happy fingers of these women are knitting dress for the downtrodden. But they are unaware, whether those dresses really go to the poor. The beneficiary might be Mr.Poles, who is one of the richest person in America. The cambridge ladies doesn’t have the knowledge to differentiate between the rich and the poor.
The main duty of these ladies is to spread scandal. They gossip about men and women.
Here, the poet says that these ladies do not care about anything and they act in a way they are not responsible for the happenings in Cambridge. The poet says the candy seller may rattle to attract little children. Likewise , the poet exaggerate and says, even if the moon comes down and rattle the cambridge ladies may not care, but they keep on knitting their scandal stories.