cummings’ “Nobody wears a yellow…”

I’ll have to admit that at times I find myself tiring of some of cummings’ oft-repeated themes, whether spring or “love,” so I’m delighted when i find an odd little one like this that I really like:

186

Nobody wears a yellow
flower in his buttonhole
he is altogether a queer fellow
as young as he is old

when autumn comes,
who twiddles his white thumbs
and frisks down the boulevards
without his coat and hat

-(and i wonder just why that
should please him or i wonder what he does)

and why(at the bottom of this trunk,
under some dirty collars) only a
moment
(or
was it perhaps a year) ago i found staring
me in the face a dead yellow small rose

Perhaps my recent rummaging through old papers and old photo albums piqued my interest in this poem, but I suspect that once you reach a certain age and look back that you begin to wonder why the heck you did some of the things you once did — not that I didn’t start wondering the same thing long before now.

When I go back and look at some of my old pictures I can’t imagine what the heck I was thinking of when it was taken. Perhaps we’d all learn something important about ourselves if we re-examined the different “roles” we’ve assumed in our lifetime and tried to figure out why we did so.

I’m pretty sure I never wore a yellow flower in my buttonhole, considering my allergies, but I wouldn’t be a man if I hadn’t managed to make a fool out of myself trying to impress members of the fairer sex.

2 thoughts on “cummings’ “Nobody wears a yellow…”

  1. “The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.”

    I think it’s a fruitless task asking ourselves why we did all those things we did in the past. You just end up with guilt and regret. But easier said than done!

    In hindsight I would have done everything differently. But if I had done things differently, I would probably still have thought ‘if only’…

    It’s the old human condition of having the consciousness to be able to take choices and then to reflect on the wisdom of those choices.

    I love the present and the future. For me the past, despite its resonances and memories and hurts and joys, is dead – almost a literary, made-up construct.

    That’s intellectually speaking. Of course, we can’t escape the past.

  2. I guess i look at the past as a tool in understanding the present, understanding what i believe and do not believe, tsw.

    I don’t feel guilty about much of what i’ve done in my life. I can’t imagine what kind of life i’d have lived if i’d spent it terrified that i was going to make mistakes. To me, the worst mistake is being afraid to try new things. The second worst might being allowing those mistakes to cripple you.

What do you think?