"I carry your heart with me (i carry it in)" Cover image featuring E.E Cummings

I Carry Your Heart With Me by E.E. Cummings: Poem Summary and Meaning

“I carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) is a love poem by E.E. Cummings and it is one of his most famous pieces of poetry. In fact, this poem is considered one of the most well-known and read love poems.  

There’s a saying “Where Love Falls, Everything Fails.” The line that divides the lovers as two people is a fine one made of something powdery; easily blown by the winds of chaos. But what is the result of this mix?

But what makes this poem so good? Once you take a closer look at the “two hearts” living together, you get to see some subtle messages and meanings of this poem. Is it just love, or is it something more than Cummings wanted to convey with this poem? 

Let’s take a look at the poem first, and then we’ll analyze the poem in detail. You’d be shocked to know how this poem is not just about the beautiful nature of love, but also about the dangerous aspect of it. 

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

-E.E Cummings

Meaning and Summary of the Poem

It is very easy to understand what Cummings is trying to convey after reading the first stanza of the poem. “i carry your heart” is a love poem that expresses the almost obsessive love for an unknown person. 

We do not know who the speaker is addressing when he says “carry your heart”, and we also do not know whether he is speaking as himself or playing a character. What we do know is that the speaker loves this person beyond doubt. 

Love is the core subject of this poem, and this is the romantic kind of love. This is the love two lovers have, perhaps a husband-wife. 

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

The poet carries this special person’s heart wherever he goes, and he is never without it. Every little thing about his lover is always with him, the thoughts, memories, everything. Not just being there with the poet, but his lover also influences his actions as well. 

“anywhere i go you go, my dear, and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling” shows an almost unbelievable bond the poet shares with his lover. Whatever the poet does is influenced by his lover. But how? 

The Presence

The lover of the poet is not present with him, but the moments he has spent with this person, and the memories he has influenced his life every day. Cummings is saying that his lover has molded this person, and made him what he is today. That is how far and deep the connection they have. 

The first stanza is about establishing how deep the connection is, so that readers understand how the speaker loves this person. To understand it in a relatable way, think of getting reminded of the person you love when you are doing something.

This is what the poet feels, but instead of feeling it sometimes, he feels it everytime. We know what it sounds like, and we’ll come to that later. 

Second and Final Stanza: The Figurative Language 

With the second and third stanzas, readers will start seeing the poem getting complex as the figurative language takes control. The first stanza was very straightforward. That’s not the case with the last two stanzas. 

        i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

The poet does not fear any fate, because his love is his fate. He needs no world, for his love is his world. There have been countless depictions of the moon to signify beauty, love, and hope. The poet says that whatever the moon has meant ever, it is you. 

So is the sunshine. The rays of the sun will always remind the poet of his love. There is no hidden meaning here. The poet is just trying to convey the importance of his lover, and what this person means to him. 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

The third stanza is where the magic of this poem shines. The poet talks about a secret, which is not a secret at all. The secret here is that he carries his lover’s heart within his heart, something that the poet has said multiple times. 

But it is what precedes the secret that gives the last stanza the impact and weight, it is what makes the poem so great. 

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

The last stanza is just to signify how much he loves this person. It shows that this love has turned into something beyond obsessiveness. It has gone beyond his life, it is something that is impossible to hide. The poet has turned exactly like his lover. 

From the core of his being to the stars that are in the sky, everything is dependent on the fact that he is carrying his lover’s heart in him. But what’s with the parentheses? What do they signify?

The Significance of Parentheses

Something many readers might have noticed about this poem is the irregular and bizarre use of parentheses. Every stanza has these parentheses, but they are there for a reason. It is a very subtle and smart use of visualization of what’s being said in the poem. 

Just like the poet carries his lover’s heart within his, these lines carry more meaning within themselves. There’s a love poem inside the love poem, a message within the message. Notice how the lines outside the brackets are the same as the lines inside?

Cummings’s writing creates a visualization of what the poem is about, and shows love is kept within love. One of the many reasons why this poem is considered a classic. A perfect love poem that borrows the best from the clichés and takes sentimental aspects of love poems to another level.

Deeper Analysis

There are many things that might confuse the readers about the structure and figurative language used in the poem. For example, the strange punctuation. The lack of punctuation is there for a stylistic and figurative reasons. 

“I” is used to signify a person, a distinct person. But here, Cummings does not capitalize any letter to explain how his individuality is gone. He is not what he was, but rather someone completely different. There are two hearts in him. 

The other reason why there is no capitalization in this poem is that it gives it a very different and unique visual appeal. It does not look like a traditional poem, even though the themes are borrowed from classic love poems. 

Literary Devices

Alliteration– The poet uses alliteration in several lines giving musicality to the poem. For example:

 i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

Enjambment– Enjambment can be seen throughout the poem, which makes the readers move on to the next lines and give rhythm to the poem. For example:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

Repetition– The poet has repeated several words in the poem which symbolizes their importance. For example: “carry”, “heart”, “fate”, and “root”.

Anaphora– Anaphora is a literary device in which a word or a phrase is repeated at the beginning of successive sentences. A few examples of Anaphora from the poem are: “i”, “and”, “no”, and “here”.

Caesura– The poet has used caesura to give a natural flow to the text and to take breath between phrases as there are no End-stopped lines. For example:

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

Meter– The poem [i carry your heart with me (i carry it in] has no consistent meter which means it was written in free verse. Free verse helps the poet to reflect upon his own feelings which are unpredictable and unconstrained.

About the Poet and the Poem

“i carry your heart with me” by Edward Estlin Cummings was published in 1952 and it became one of his most famous poems. Cummings has written mostly on the topic of love and its effects on the human mind and heart.

i carry your heart with me is one of his best-known poems, and the modernist approach he took while writing this poem, yet borrowing the recognizable elements from the love poems centuries old makes this poem stand out. 

What do you think about the meaning and the meaning of it? Is it just love or the poem reaches into the dark territory of obsessiveness? Is it one-sided love that only the speaker feels since we never get to know what his lover has to say? These are some questions that have no correct answers. 

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