The Lists #12 by John King

Literature Questions for Further Discussion (e.e. cummings’ “anyone lived in a pretty how town”)

  1. If e.e. cummings’s “anyone lived in a pretty how town” is an allegory for obscure figures from The Holy Bible, who would anyone and who would noone be?
  2. Recite the poem naked. Doesn’t that sound better? What changes in the timbre of your voice?
  3. Why do you think “Women” is the only word cummings capitalizes in the poem? Speculate about when cummings stopped suckling upon his mother’s throbbing breast.
  4. Pinpoint the nearest pretty how town to where you live on Google Earth. Now read the poem again. Notice anything different?
  5. What do you think cummings’s neighbors were like? Did they slurp tea in the afternoon, and squint through Venetian blinds at the snowy yard?
  6. How is a pretty what town different than a pretty how town? What does that difference do to the psyche? How would you feel shaving in such a difference?
  7. How long can you hold your breath?


1flipJohn King (Episode, well, all of them) is a podcaster, writer, and ferret wrangler.