The story’s pretty simple: spring has sprung. Everything’s growing and all-around delightful. The kids, in fact, jump for joy when the man selling balloons starts to whistle. Clowns (and other balloon-selling folk) have gotten a bad rap for being scary and creepy, but this guy seems to be all right. At the very least, he gets the kiddies to come running to him. , E.E. Cummings creates a poem that’s half painting and half sound-scape (that’s the aural version of a landscape) bursting with descriptions of the way that a spring day in the park looks and feels and sounds and smells. And because the poem repeats itself several times it emphasizes the way that all the tiny details of the poem actually contribute to one overarching image: the park in spring.
Title: "in Just-" serves double-duty: it's both adopted title and first line. Cummings makes up a hyphenated word (Just-spring) and then splits it up, putting half into the title and half into the first line.There is no way to know for sure that it is hyphenated but because there are others like "puddle-wonderful" and "mud-luscious" I think it is safe to assume. Our speaker seems to be throwing us headlong into his world. We think we’re just reading a title…and then, WHAM! All of a sudden we’re off and running, smack in the middle of the poem itself. In a weird way, the immediate change from title to poem mimics the suddenness of spring’s arrival. We’re in winter, we’re in winter…and then one morning, you wake up and the sun’s beaming. It’s spring! Come to think of it, the title/first line mimics also mimics the rest of the poem formally. We never really get to a stopping point in this poem. The last word of a line isn’t ever just the end of phrase. It usually links directly into the next line. Hmm...isn’t that sort of like the constant growing and blossoming of things in spring? Well, yes. Yes, it is.
The poem at first looks like it is meant to confuse readers but in fact the poet isn’t trying to do that at all. The speaker is in a sense like a three year old kid who so overwhelemed by the sight of spring that he doesn’t attempt to stop talking about it.
Notice how we never slowed down there? That’s partially the effect that Cummings tries to create for his speaker. The words slosh together, running over each other as if they’re overlapping brush strokes in an impressionist painting
He does things with grammer and with the sounds of words that seem very strange when you first encounter them, but as you understand the context better they reveal themselves to be perfectly appropriate. The most obvious of these quirks in this example is the strange use of punctuation and the non-gramatical insertion of 'kiss' and 'tictoc' that litters the poem. the meter is used to drive the energy of the poem, rather than maintain it
We'll ignore the tictocs for now and focus on the meter. I want you to pay attention to the momentum you have when you read each of these lines out loud. Try seperating the line from its surroundings and reading it as a single piece. At the end of every line you find yourself in the middle, just about to get to the interesting part of the sentence (or in this case, next interesting part). You end up jumping down to the next line in a fit of discomfort, aware of a need to finish this thought that was started. But when you finish that thought, another has begun - and suddenly you've found yourself at the end of the stanza and you don't even realize how you got there.
The effect is to make you feel two things:
1. a slightly uncomfortable, skitzy feeling
If you still don't understand what I mean, here's that same stanza without the line breaks removed. Pay attention to how much easier and boring it is to read:
"There are so many tictoc clocks everywhere telling people what toctic time it is for tictic instance five toc minutes toc past six tic"
The tension we get from unresolved thoughts resolving and unresolving themselves is