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  • NYS Writers Institute

Poetry Friday: "[little tree]" by E.E. Cummings

On this frightful winter's Friday, with arctic winds blasting us with bitter cold, we hope E. E. Cummings’ poem “[little tree]” helps to bring a sweet feeling of holiday warmth.

First published in 1920, Cummings' affection for “[little tree]” lasted a lifetime: he had it printed and sent it as his family Christmas card in 1960, two years before he died.

A bookish Christmas tree created by Julie Phillips of Niskayuna.

A bookish Christmas tree created by Julie Phillips of Niskayuna. (Photo: Michael Huber)

[little tree]

By E.E. Cummings

little tree

little silent Christmas tree

you are so little

you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest

and were you very sorry to come away?

see i will comfort you

because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark

and hug you safe and tight

just as your mother would,

only don't be afraid

look the spangles

that sleep all the year in a dark box

dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,

the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms

and i'll give them all to you to hold

every finger shall have its ring

and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you're quite dressed

you'll stand in the window for everyone to see

and how they'll stare!

oh but you'll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands

and looking up at our beautiful tree

we'll dance and sing

"Noel Noel"

First published in The Dial (January, 1920), public domain


Puget Soundworks performs [little tree]" during their inaugural holiday show, "Snowflakes," at All Pilgrims Christian Church in Seattle on December 1, 2018. Music by Eric Lane Barnes.

Edward Estlin Cummings

Edward Estlin Cummings (1894-1962) was one of the twentieth century's most inventive and influential poets. Cummings rewrote grammatical and linguistic conventions to suit his own needs and experimented with poetry form and language to develop his own particular style.

He is known for his extroverted use of language, which often includes non-standard words and phrases, such sentences that seem incomplete or lacking in punctuation, and for-in statements that appear within poems. His work has been cited as an influence by many other poets, including Allen Ginsberg and Charles Olson.

From Authors Cast. Read more.


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