If ever there was a poet to be frustrate to the computer, it was e. His broken syntax, irregular grammar, and disregard for traditional punctuation and capitalization. His uncharacteristic style, however, is not the reason I chose his poem “pity this busy monster, manunkind” to analyze. The poem deals with a grave issue that I take interest in: commentary on the nature of humankind’s relationship with Earth. .
The first two lines of the poem sets up cummings sarcastic style well, first telling the reader to “pity this busy monster, manunkind,” and then modifying the clause at the beginning of the following line (which has an additional space between the two lines) with “not.” cummings was then fifty years early on the everyday use of “not” at the end of a sentence as a sarcastic device. The subject of the line, “this busy monster, manunkind,” establishes the target of the poem’s criticism. On one of the labels for the human race human race, mankind compliments the idea of a humanity as a monster which will be a recurring idea throughout the poem. .
A new subject is brought into the poem in the second line, when cummings writes that “Progress is a comfortable disease:(death and life safely beyond)” A disease can be comfortable only if the afflicted does not or will not accept that he or she is actually being harmed by it; like a drug-addict, humankind would rather wallow in the false bliss of “progress” rather than find true spiritual, intellectual, and/or emotional growth. cummings thereupon begins to examine progress’s victim, for whom (death and life [are] safely beyond) Typically, the two ideas are reversed in the form of life and death, but cummings chose to place the more concrete concept in front and then move on to the more abstract. “manunkind” manages to avoid natural death through his disease, while at the same time avoids any deeper sense of life. Ignoring the parenthetical aside, cummings tells progress that “your victim (death and life safely beyond) plays with the bigness of his littleness” in lines three and four.