1(a... (a leaf falls on loneliness)
by e.e. cummings
Although one may think of l(a as a poem of sadness and
loneliness, E.E. Cummings probably did not intend that. This poem is about individuality - oneness. The theme of oneness can be derived from the numerous instances and forms of the number '1' throughout the poem. First, 'l(a' contains both the number 1 and the
singular indefinite article, 'a'; the second line contains the French
singular definite article, 'le'; 'll' on the fifth line represents two ones; 'one' on the 7th line spells the number out; the 8th line, 'l', isolates the number; and 'iness', the last line, can mean "the state
of being I" - that is, individuality - or "oneness", deriving the "one" from the lowercase roman numeral 'i'.
Cummings could have
simplified this poem drastically ("a leaf falls:/loneliness"), and
still conveyed the same verbal message, but he has altered the normal syntax in order that each line should show a 'one' and highlight the theme of oneness. In fact, the whole poem is shaped like a '1'. The shape of the poem can also be seen as the path of a falling leaf; the poem drifts down, flipping and altering pairs of letters like a
falling leaf gliding, back and forth, down to the ground. The beginning 'l(a' changes to 'le', and 'af' flips to 'fa'. 'll' indicates a quick drop of the leaf, which has slowed by a longer line,'one'. Finally, the leaf falls into the pile of fallen leaves on the
ground, represented by 'iness'.
Cummings has written this poem so perfectly that every part of it conveys the message of oneness and individuality.