Anyone lived in a Pretty How Town


In a society, where fitting in is so important to many people, the unique ones are often overlooked. Although many might actually envy their courage to stand out in a crowd, their first instinct is to label them “weird”, possibly because they are angry at themselves for not expressing the same type of individuality. Deep down everybody is unique in some way, and it is the people who ignore the critics, and possibly don’t even acknowledge their existence, who make a difference that people remember. In the poem “Anyone lived in a Pretty How Town”, E.E. Cummings explores the idea of conformity in a town and tells a story of the few who ignore the rules. It introduces the reader to a small town. Through a play on words it takes them through the life cycle of the small minded lives that most of the community leads. Cummings also touches on topics like marriage, the innocence of children, joy, and love. The intentionally different language that is used is very significant to the poems meaning. It more deeply explains the point to the reader.


The poem is unique and abstract because of the language that is used. In the beginning of the poem you are introduced to “anyone”. In most cases this word is used to express that the identity is not relevant. In this case “anyone” is a specific person. Cummings mentions the word “anyone” and then refers back to him as “he”.


Anyone lived in a pretty how town


(with up so floating many bells down)


spring summer autumn winter


he sang his didn’t he danced his did


The same concept is also applied to the title of the poem, “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town”. “How” is being used as a substitute for an adjective. It is up to the reader to come to an assumption as to what this adjective might be. This implies that it is not very important. It could be any town. The play on words is what makes this poem stand out. It also gives the reader some room to interpret the poem in more than one way.


Anyone lives in a town where he is not liked by his community. The women and men don’t like him and the “someones” and “everyones” are not amused by him either. The reason for this is because he is different and maybe they are threatened or just bothered by this. The story is pretty simple. Anyone is the name of a man and Noone is the name of his love. This poem tells a love story, and because if it’s simplicity, it is one that is often overlooked. It is overlooked by everybody but the children in the town.


The story touches on the purity of children. It points out how much more clearly they view the world before they are bombarded by other people’s opinions. Children are born with their eyes wide open to every experience. As they grow up they are taught to conform, and with this they learn to block certain things out, or label them “unimportant”. “Children guessed (but only a few and down they forgot as up they grew” (lines 9-10). They are pure and imaginative and the children guessed that anyone and noone were falling in love. They knew that “anyone’s any was all to her” (line 16). They notice that there is happiness and magic between “anyone” and “noone”. As they grow up they loose their creative, adventurous personalities and become boring and strict, just like the women and men in the town. Soon “they forgot as up they grew” and begin to hate anyone and his unique personality just like all of the adults (line 10).


Other people married in the town besides anyone and noone but they were different. The “someones” met their “everyones” but it was not true love. They were marrying just for the sake of being married. They were replaceable and interchangeable and did not love eachother for their unique qualities.


someones married their everyones


laughed their cryings and did their dance


(sleep wake hope and then) they


said their nevers and slept their dreams (lines17-20)


They were not living the lives that they had hoped