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Who are you little i (Poem) Grade 11 Exercises


Who are you little i?

E.E. Cummings


Understanding the text

Answer the following questions.

a. Who can be the speaker of this poem?

Answer: The speaker of the poem can be the poet himself. He recalls his childhood experience closely connected with nature.

b. What is “little i” doing?
Answer: Little i is peering the beautiful golden sunset of November through some high window and feeling about the way of changing day into the night.

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

Answer: "Little i" is the speaker's inner child. There is natural attachment between little i and the speaker. The speaker little I is an outcome of the speaker's memory of childhood experience.

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

Answer: In the poem, the speaker is remembering his childhood days as well as the beautiful scene of nature. He is also remembering the window through which he is peering and enjoying the beautiful golden November sunset.

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

Answer: The speaker seems to have positive attitude towards the child. He seems quite nostalgic when he recalls his childhood. He is very happy to be connected with the nature being little i.


Reference to the context

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

Answer: I think Cummings has placed the semicolon between the words 'window' and 'at' to break two different locations. The locations are inside and outside. In the first part, the poet asks his question. In the second part, he goes on to explain the sense of curiosity he has experienced.

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

Answer: The speaker asks "who are you?" because he is feeling better in his memory to find his own childhood days when is completely free to do any activity. The childhood feeling still lives within him. The feelings that cause him to remember how he used to enjoy the golden sunset in November when he was a child.

c. In this poem, an adult reflects on the 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)”?

Answer: The theme of the line is death. The day turning into the night as the gradual change of life into death. The speaker is ready to welcome death rather than staying suffering alive. This indicates how death can be a solution to a painful life.

In these lines we find the boy's feeling about the beautiful scene of November's golden sunset. The boy finds a quite beautiful way of changing golden colours of the sun of day time into black colours of the night. Thus, the theme of these lines is related to the wonderful changes of beautiful nature which are beyond humans' expectations, feelings, passions, ideas etc. These changes have deep effects on humans. The theme in its deeper sense also refers to the end of human life which is full burden of obligations, responsibilities and pains. The light of the day time refers to the life whereas the darkness of night refers to death.


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

Answer: The rhyme of scheme of the poem is ABAB and CDCD. For example, 'I' in the first line rhymes with ‘high’ in the third line, and ‘old’ in the second line rhymes with ‘gold’ in the fourth line. In the same way day in the sixth line and way in the eighth line are rhyming words.


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

Answer: A pun is the clever use of a word that has more than one meaning or a word that have different meanings but sounds the same. Here, in the act of the 'little i', we find beautiful use of the pun. The 'little i' is peering golden sunset of November through some high window. Here, 'little i' and 'high' sound alike in rhyme scheme but create laughter for the readers to find out the meaning. The speaker has mismatched the height of 'little i' and 'window' for peering beautiful golden sunset of November which has created laughter.


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

Answer: Cumming uses lowercase letters to emphasize his inferior feelings in regard to his experience. The use of lowercase letters in his poem have different literal meanings beyond their forms. The style of using lowercase letters is considered to be incorrect in grammatically in written English. His use of lowercase letters here in this poem has created difficulty for us to get the real meaning of the poem. He used to enjoy nature in his childhood full of happiness. Now his adulthood worries have suppressed his joys and pleasures.

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