“Humanity I love you…”

There’s certainly nothing particularly new about the ideas expressed in cummings’ “101” but I still love the way he says them, exhibiting both his endearing sense of humor and the ambiguity typical of his best poems.

You gotta love a poem that begins “Humanity i love you” and ends “Humanity i hate you.” Surely, somewhere between those two extremes must lie the truth, or, at least, something that will pass as the truth:

Humanity i love you
because you would rather black the boots of
success than enquire whose soul dangles from his
watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both

parties and because you
unflinchingly applaud all
songs containing the words country home and
mother when sung at the old howard

Humanity i love you because
when you’re hard up you pawn your
intelligence to buy a drink and when
you’re flush pride keeps

you from the pawn shop and
because you are continually committing
nuisances but more
especially in your own house

Humanity i love you because you
are perpetually putting the secret of
life in your pants and forgetting
it’s there and sitting down

on it
and because you are
forever making poems in the lap
of death Humanity

i hate you

Those of us who’ve spent our lives trying to improve society (I’m pretty sure I wasn’t teaching for the money) seem oblivious to the fact that human nature is remarkably resistant to change. Although this poem was written at the beginning of the 20th Century, it certainly seems as true today as the day it was written.

The media, and, thus, society is fixated on Success and those who’ve attained it, no matter how many people they’ve betrayed on their trip to the top.

Even in a society as depraved as our own, “country,” “home,” and “mother” still seem to have the ability to launch songsters to the top of the pops ladder.

And judging from the popularity of some seriously dumb beer commercials, more than a few young people have pawned their “intelligence to buy a drink.”

It’s almost enough to make you question why you continue to love the human race, isn’t it?

9 thoughts on ““Humanity I love you…”

  1. The poem could be called “Dear Sisyphus: his point is that he can’t make a rational case for loving humanity, because just about the time we commit to it, someone reminds him it was a ridiculous proposition. (ELLIOT SPITZER, stand up and be counted!) The fundamental silliness of loving “humanity” is that humanity is a fickle mistress. My hunch: we have to love the possiblities of humanity, and accept the letdown, since the bad guys were never on our love-letter list to begin with. And if we are forced to hope only our own account, we feel selfish, as if we were wanting our own kids to grow up unharmed by life, but knowing that’s not fair to all the other kids.

  2. I’ve never read this cummings’ poem before. It’s quite prescient of the modern day. I guess things really don’t ever change. I stopped loving humanity a very long time ago. It’s why I take refuge in watching birds and wildlife.

  3. In my opinion i believe that Cummings wrote this as a pseudo love song, but it really is his way of critizing humanity for the way they live and calling for them to change. He believes that we fawn over the rich and the famous, envy them, try to be them, but never stop to consider what we corrupt within ouselves.

  4. I love this, it really makes you think and I found the metaphors really fun to untangle. Can anyone shed some light on the final stanza? It seems different to me, somehow “making poems in the lap of death” feels more honorable, as if people will continue to make art even in the face of death. But, then this interpretation doesn’t fit with the rest of the poem.

What do you think?