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Who are you, little i? Summary & Exercise [Class-11]

Summary of  Who are you, little i?

The poem "Who are you, little i?" by E. E. Cummings is a short and evocative poem that reflects on the beauty of nature and the relationship between the speaker and a child looking out at the sunset. The child is described as "five or six years old" and is "peering from some high / window," and the sunset is described as the "gold / of November sunset."

The speaker reflects on the beauty of the transition from day to night and asks "who are you, little i," leaving the relationship between the speaker and the child open to interpretation. The poem touches on themes of childhood innocence, the beauty of nature, and the meaning of change and encourages readers to reflect on their own experiences and memories.

Understanding the text

Answer the following questions.

a. Who can be the speaker of this poem?

The speaker of this poem is the poet himself.

b. What is “little i” doing?

"Little i" is peering out of a window and watching the sunset.

c. What can be the relationship between “little i” and the speaker of the poem?

The "little i" is the speaker at a younger age.

d. What is the speaker remembering from his childhood days in the poem?

The speaker is remembering a moment from their childhood when they were five or six years old and watched the sunset.

e. What attitude does the speaker seem to have toward the child in the poem?

The speaker seems to have a positive and nostalgic attitude towards the child in the poem.

Reference to the Context

a. Why do you think Cummings has placed a semicolon between the words window and at?

E. E. Cummings often used unconventional punctuation in his poetry to create a certain rhythm or emphasis. In this case, the semicolon between "window" and "at" creates a pause in the poem and may be used to add emphasis to the action of the speaker peering out of the window. It also serves to separate the description of the speaker's action from the description of what they are seeing, which is the sunset. By using a semicolon instead of a period or a comma, Cummings may be trying to convey a sense of continuity or connection between the two clauses, as if the action of peering out of the window and the beauty of the sunset are closely related.

b. If the speaker is the child grown up, why does he ask, “who are you”?

It's possible that the speaker is the child grown up and is asking "who are you" to themselves as they reflect on their own childhood. This could be a way of expressing the sense of distance or disconnection that can sometimes come with looking back on one's own childhood and trying to reconnect with that version of oneself.

Alternatively, the line "who are you, little i" could be interpreted more literally, as if the speaker is asking the child in the poem who they are. This could be seen as a way of emphasizing the speaker's relationship with the child, or as a way of exploring the child's identity and perspective.

c. In this poem, an adult reflects on their childhood experience. Based on that, what might be the theme of the lines: “(and feeling: that if day / has to become night / this is a beautiful way)”?

The lines "(and feeling: that if day / has to become night / this is a beautiful way)" suggest that the speaker is reflecting on a moment from their childhood when they watched the sunset and found it beautiful. The sunset is described as a transition from day to night, and the speaker seems to be appreciating the beauty of this transition.

One possible theme of these lines could be the idea of change and how it can be beautiful or meaningful. The sunset represents a natural and inevitable change, as day always becomes night, and the speaker seems to find beauty in this process. This could be seen as a metaphor for other types of change or transitions that we experience in life, and the idea that even though change can be difficult or unsettling, it can also be a source of beauty and meaning.

Another possible theme could be the idea of childhood innocence and the sense of wonder and appreciation that children can have for the world around them. The speaker is recalling a moment from their childhood when they found the sunset to be beautiful, which could be seen as an expression of the childlike sense of wonder and appreciation for the beauty of the natural world. This could be a way of exploring the speaker's own memories and feelings about their childhood and the way they experienced and perceived the world at that time.

d. What is the rhyme scheme used in the poem?

The poem "Who are you, little i?" by E. E. Cummings does not have a traditional rhyme scheme. It is written in free verse, meaning that it does not have a fixed pattern of rhyme or meter. This allows the poet to have more freedom in their choice of words and phrasing and to create a more natural flow of language.

Free verse poetry is characterized by its lack of a regular rhyme scheme or meter, and it is often associated with a more modern or experimental style of poetry. Cummings was known for his innovative use of language and structure in his poetry, and he often used free verse as a way of breaking free from traditional poetic forms and conventions.

While the poem "Who are you, little i?" does not have a traditional rhyme scheme, it does contain some internal rhyme, such as the repetition of the vowel sound in "window" and "gold" and the repetition of the consonant sound in "sunset" and "November." These internal rhymes add a sense of musicality to the poem and help to create a sense of flow and unity.

e. Explain the pun in “little i” that is related to what he is doing.

The phrase "little i" in the poem "Who are you, little i?" by E. E. Cummings could be interpreted as a pun, as it can be read in two different ways. On the one hand, "little i" could be seen as a way of referring to a child, with the "i" standing for the pronoun "I." This interpretation is supported by the opening line of the poem, which asks "who are you, little i," and the fact that the child is described as being five or six years old.

On the other hand, the phrase "little i" could also be seen as a play on the word "eye," as the child is described as "peering from some high / window." In this interpretation, the phrase "little i" could be seen as a way of emphasizing the child's perspective and the way they are looking out at the world.

Overall, the pun in "little i" serves to create a sense of ambiguity and multiple meanings within the poem, which is a common feature of Cummings' poetry. By using language in this way, Cummings encourages readers to think more deeply about the words and meanings within the poem and to consider different possible interpretations.

f. How does Cummings’s use of lowercase letters affect your understanding of the poem? Explain.

E. E. Cummings is known for his unconventional use of capitalization and punctuation in his poetry, and this is evident in the poem "Who are you, little i?" In this poem, Cummings uses lowercase letters for all the words except for the word "November," which is capitalized.

Cummings' use of lowercase letters has a number of effects on the reader's understanding of the poem. One possible effect is to create a sense of informality or intimacy, as the use of lowercase letters is often associated with more casual or informal writing. This could help to establish a more personal or intimate tone in the poem, as if the speaker is addressing the reader in a more informal and conversational way.

Another possible effect of Cummings' use of lowercase letters is to create a sense of visual unity or cohesiveness within the poem. By using lowercase letters for all the words except for "November," Cummings creates a visual pattern that ties the poem together and helps to establish a sense of unity and flow.

Overall, Cummings' use of lowercase letters in the poem "Who are you, little i?" contributes to the unique style and tone of the poem and helps to create a sense of intimacy, informality, and visual unity. It is one of the many ways in which Cummings' poetry breaks free from traditional poetic forms and conventions and invites readers to engage with the poem in a more open and expressive way.

Reference beyond the text

a. How does nature inspire the speaker in “who are you, little i”? Explain.

In the poem "Who are you, little i?" by E. E. Cummings, the speaker is inspired by nature as they watch the sunset and find it to be beautiful. The sunset is described as the "gold of November sunset," and the speaker reflects on the beauty of the transition from day to night. This suggests that nature is a source of inspiration for the speaker, as they are able to find beauty and meaning in the natural world around them.

Nature can often serve as a source of inspiration for poets and writers, as it offers a wealth of beauty, complexity, and mystery to explore and consider. By watching the sunset and finding it to be beautiful, the speaker in this poem is able to connect with the natural world in a meaningful way and to find inspiration in the beauty and wonder of the world around them.

Overall, nature is a central theme in this poem and serves as a source of inspiration for the speaker as they reflect on their childhood and the beauty of the natural world. By focusing on the sunset and the changing of the day into night, the poem invites readers to consider the ways in which nature can inspire and connect us to the world around us.

b. Recall a childhood moment when you felt closely connected with nature. Describe the time and place as well as your feelings and thoughts about it.

I have a fond memory of a childhood moment when I went on a hike through the woods and felt a sense of wonder and awe at the beauty of the trees, the birds singing, and the sunlight filtering through the leaves. I felt a sense of freedom and connection to the natural world as I explored and discovered new things. I also recall a moment when I sat by a pond near my home and watched the water and the clouds, feeling a sense of peace and tranquility as I took in the beauty of the natural world.

Overall, childhood moments that are closely connected to nature can be deeply meaningful and memorable experiences that stay with us for a lifetime. These moments can provide us with a sense of connection to the world around us and help us to appreciate the beauty and wonder of the natural world.

c. Interpret the poem in any way you like.

The poem "Who are you, little i?" by E. E. Cummings is a short and evocative poem that invites readers to consider the relationship between the speaker and a child looking out at the sunset. The child is described as "five or six years old" and is "peering from some high window," suggesting that they are looking out at the world from a position of observation or contemplation.

The sunset is described as the "gold of November sunset," and the speaker reflects on the beauty of the transition from day to night, stating that "if day has to become night / this is a beautiful way." This suggests that the speaker is appreciating the beauty of change and the natural cycles of the world.

The relationship between the speaker and the child is left open to interpretation, as the speaker asks "who are you, little i," but it is possible that the speaker is the child grown up, reflecting on a moment from their childhood. Alternatively, the speaker could be someone else looking at the child and asking about their identity and perspective.

Overall, the poem invites readers to consider the relationship between the speaker and the child and to think about the ways in which we perceive and experience the world around us. It touches on themes of childhood innocence, the beauty of nature, and the meaning of change, and encourages readers to reflect on their own experiences and memories.

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