Nothing noths

man with sailfish

what Got him was Noth
ing & nothing’s exAct
ly what any
one Living (or some
body Dead
even a Poet) could

hardly express what
i Mean is
what knocked him over Wasn’t
(for instance) the Knowing your
whole …
life is a Flop or even
Feel how
Everything (dreamed
& hoped &
prayed for
months & weeks & days & years
& nights &
forever) is Less Than
Nothing (which would have been
Something) what got him was

~ e. e. cummings

Image: A man carries a sailfish through the district of Hamarweyne in South Mogadishu, Somalia by Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty, courtesy of the Guardian



11 thoughts on “Nothing noths

  1. I’m a fan of e.e. cummings, too. The picture is striking: the eye of the sailfish, the decaying ochre buildings, the long flight of stairs the man climbs with the weight of the fish on his shoulders.


    • As you say. The eye, the buildings, the stairs. Biblical, mythic, incredible. I can’t get enough of looking at it. I was also thinking it was on his shoulders and then I saw it’s on his head. And look at the man’s elegance and casualness, the way he’s not using his left hand, just the right to hold the tail. And the fish, magnificent creature. Best of all, the wetness of the man. The fish has brought the ocean with it maybe. Or maybe the man dived in and caught the fish in his arms :)


  2. Such a hilarious and puzzling poem contrasted with such a ‘real’ and textured photograph of man, fish, city (crumbling? ancient? war-battered?). The shadow is simply extraordinary. Now I think the shadow is what ee cummings is talking about. Well, maybe.


    • You got the contrast I was intending, between the “reality” of the fish and man and the “reality” of the poem. I know it can sound pretentious, superior or downright barmy to say it, but I can’t help myself wanting to tell you that every word of the poem is absolutely literal and serious. It’s what people in the Landmark Forum experience on the final day: that they have been gotten by nothing. In fact, the poem is given as a handout at Landmark. xx


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