"since feeling is first" was published in 1926 as part of E. E. Cummings's collection Is 5. Like many poems in the collection, "since feeling is first" is a love poem that celebrates the joys of romance. The speaker also suggests that emotions tend to overshadow thoughts, arguing that the act of feeling is much more immediate and profound than turning to logic or reason. The poem exemplifies Cummings's unique poetic style, which often plays with standard grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. Interestingly enough, the poem's speaker claims that analyzing life like a piece of syntax—breaking down its grammar and rules—keeps people from being present in life and fully appreciating things like love.
since feeling is ...
... wholly kiss you;
wholly to be ...
... my blood approves,
and kisses are ...
... than wisdom
lady i swear ...
... for each other;
... is no parenthesis
Select any word below to get its definition in the context of the poem. The words are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem.
The Poem Out Loud — Listen to a dramatic reading of the poem.
The Life of the Poet — Read more about E. E. Cummings in this concise overview of his life and work.
Cummings's Unique Style — Learn more about E. E. Cummings's innovative use of structure and form in his writing.
The Poet as a Painter — In addition to writing poetry, Cummings was also a skilled painter, as illustrated by this impressive self-portrait in the National Portrait Gallery!
A Stylized Approach — A New Yorker essay by the poet Paul Muldoon about Cummings's characteristically strange – but very intentional – stylistic decisions.
1since feeling is first
2who pays any attention
3to the syntax of things
4will never wholly kiss you;
5wholly to be a fool
6while Spring is in the world
7my blood approves,
8and kisses are a better fate
10lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
11– the best gesture of my brain is less than
12your eyelids’ flutter which says
13we are for each other; then
14laugh, leaning back in my arms
15for life’s not a paragraph
16And death i think is no parenthesis