Humanity I Love You

A poem by E. E. Cummings

Humanity i love you
because you would rather black the boots of
success than enquire whose soul dangles from his
watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both

parties and because you
unflinchingly applaud all
songs containing the words country home and
mother when sung at the old howard

Humanity i love you because
when you’re hard up you pawn your
intelligence to buy a drink and when
you’re flush pride keeps

you from the pawn shop and
because you are continually committing
nuisances but more
especially in your own house

Humanity i love you because you
are perpetually putting the secret of
life in your pants and forgetting
it’s there and sitting down

on it
and because you are
forever making poems in the lap
of death Humanity

i hate you

 

My Interpretation:

I was first introduced to this poem in a English course for school, it has since become one of my favorite poems of all time. Something I found interesting about the poem was that I had a negative reception when I read it for the first time. However, the more I started to understand the poem, the more the disturbing feeling I got when I first read it made more and more sense.

The themes expressed in this poem are flaws that we see often in people, selfishness, conceitedness, and disrespect. The entire poem uses dramatic irony, otherwise known as sarcasm, and imagery to express how much Cummings does not actually love humanity- in fact, Cummings actually hates humanity. In the beginning of the poem, Cummings expresses how much he loves the way humanity humiliates the poor and helpless. However, humanity will never call out the wealthy because the wealthy are powerful therefore we should never disrespect them. Cummings also loves it when humanity proudly and unapologetically shows patriotism for their home country by singing patriotic songs, but will never show patriotism in any other aspect of their lives. This reference could also have something to do with the time, as Cummings was alive during both World Wars. Cummings also admires humanity when they quickly fall to alcoholism as a solution to their problems or how humanity disrespects their family members, but ironically, they hold a reputation for being a good person around the community. The poem comes to an end by essentially “calling out” other poets and poems that speak of the inevitability of death so we should be fearing the afterlife while we are alive. The very last lines of the poem are a very powerful and straight-forward “humanity I hate you” revealing that Cummings never did love humanity and these are the things he hates the most about the kind.

Something that all of humanity can learn from this poem is that these qualities don’t have to define us; there is still hope. We can learn to not be afraid and call out the actions of those who demoralize us. We can learn to help those around us and have personal lives. We be the change humanity needs to love again. We can learn to love humanity again.

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