Since Feeling Is First: Being a Fool While Spring is in the World


One of my favorite poets is E.E. Cummings. One of my favorite poems by him is entitled “Since Feeling is First”:

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

 This poem discusses love and romance, and allowing ourselves to succumb to all of the joy and ecstasy that arises with a budding romance. In the first stanza, I believe Cummings is relaying the notion that if when we find ourselves falling for another person, we often begin to restrain ourselves by over-analyzing our feelings. We attempt to control our feelings, which frighten us due to their intensity, by convincing ourselves that love and romance should follow some sort of sequential order of events, or that there is some set of pre-determined rules in which all budding romances should follow (the syntax of things).

For example, people come up with all of these crazy rules, such as you should wait x amount of time to do this with someone, or you should wait y amount of time to share your thoughts about that with someone, that you should wait 3 days or some arbitrary number to call someone after a date… and blah blah blah.

As Cummings relays, if we constantly are paying heed to this “syntax of things,” we can never truly  allow ourselves to experience the breathtaking sensation of a true love’s kiss, or all of the wonder which comes with truly allowing yourself to fall for another person. Cummings seems to relay that it is better to be a fool, or to enjoy the dizzying, terrifying experience of falling in love (while spring is in the world) rather than to choose wisdom: the path of safety, whereby we use rules and syntax to control our feelings, in an attempt to avoid being hurt by love.

Often we over-analyze love to the point that we squander it. Cummings points out that our mind, which tends to try to overpower the heart with logic and reason (the best gesture of my brain) is not nearly as true or as good as the simple physical expression of one’s love for another (your eyelids’ flutter).

So yes, maybe it is logical to restrain ourselves, pace ourselves, and to follow man-made rules in the game of love, in order to avoid an earth-shattering heartbreak. However, will we ever truly experience love that way? Should we walk away from someone we love out of fear, because we don’t want them to hurt us, or should we  give ourselves to the splendor of love, even if we know it may  only last for a season? … such as the limited amount of time that spring is in the world. 

Life is so very short, and we all only have so many opportunities at experiencing true love, yet we run away from it out of fear of being hurt. Opening ourselves up to being hurt by love, is opening ourselves up to life. Life will provide us with a series of heartaches, but if we spend our lives trying to avoid this inevitable pain which comes with opening our hearts up to others, then we will never experience the true joy that comes with loving someone else.

Perhaps we all should accept that feeling precedes logic, and that it is a far better fate to be a fool while spring is in the world.

What do you think?

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