Ambiguous Diction In 'Anyone Lived In A Pretty How Town'

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The poem “anyone lived in a pretty how town” by E.E. Cummings describes the life of a man who the townspeople do not care for because they obsess over improving their own lives with insignificant objects. The man lives, falls deeply in love, and eventually surrenders to death. Yet, the townspeople pay no attention to his death because they “are busy folk,” running around infatuated with things that do not matter (line 27). Little do they know that death will soon take them also. E. E. Cummings, in his poem “anyone lived in a pretty how town,” incorporates ambiguous diction, stirring imagery, a causal tone, and seasonal references to assert that everyone and everything dies in the end, so humanity should not spend what precious time they have …show more content…
Instead, he focuses on ambiguous diction, for example, with the use of “anyone” or “noone” (line 1 and 12). Within the first line of the poem , Cummings leaves the audience attempting to determine the identity of the subject of his poem when the speaker says “anyone lived in a pretty how town” (line 1). Ordinarily, the word “anyone” applies to the general population and does not attach to a specific person. However, this word contains a double meaning. When Cummings employs this pronoun, he converts it into a character name. Another instance of Cummings changing a pronoun into a character name arises with the introduction of “noone.” This word typically denotes a lack people, yet Cummings cleverly turns “no one” into one word, “noone,” which becomes his character name for the woman that loves “anyone.” Cummings’ choice of ambiguous diction confuses the audience. This confusion parallels the idea that people focus so much of their time and energy on insignificant things that they become confused on what truly matters. Just as the audience overlooks the meaning behind the poem because they concentrate on the confusing, yet unimportant “anyone” and “noone,” humanity can become confused about the meaning of life by obsessing over trivial

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