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i sing of Olaf glad and big... (XXX) Analysis

Author: poem of e.e. cummings Type: poem Views: 22

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i sing of Olaf glad and big

whose warmest heart recoiled at war:

a conscientious object-or


his wellbelov&eacuted colonel (trig

westpointer most succinctly bred)

took erring Olaf soon in hand;

but-though an host of overjoyed

noncoms (first knocking on the head

him) do through icy waters roll

that helplessness which others stroke

with brushes recently employed

anent this muddy toiletbowl,

while kindred intellects evoke

allegiance per blunt instruments-

Olaf (being to all intents

a corpse and wanting any rag

upon what God unto him gave)

responds, without getting annoyed

"I will not kiss your fucking flag"


straightaway the silver bird looked grave

(departing hurriedly to shave)


but-though all kinds of officers

(a yearning nation's blueeyed pride)

their passive prey did kick and curse

until for wear their clarion

voices and boots were much the worse,

and egged the firstclassprivates on

his rectum wickedly to tease

by means of skillfully applied

bayonets roasted hot with heat-

Olaf (upon what were once knees)

does almost ceaselessly repeat

"there is some shit I will not eat"


our president,being of which

assertions duly notified

threw the yellowsonofabitch

into a dungeon,where he died


Christ (of His mercy infinite)

i pray to see;and Olaf,too


preponderatingly because

unless statistics lie he was

more brave than me:more blond than you


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.: :.

1) I speak highly of Olaf, he has a big heart and dislike war, and he is a conscientious objector.
2) His beloved colonel who is strong and well – bred (the love of colonel). Took Olaf by the hand, but a bunch of happy non-commissural officers, who knocked him on the head. Came through icy water (hard times while serving in military) and made him feel helpless, with the help of some other officers. In this ‘’ Muddy toilet bowl’’ other sensitive intellectuals barded together held up weapon and declared. ‘’ I will not kiss your flag’’.
3) Air planes overhead, coming close; the proud blue-eyed officers had rowdy captives who waited to hear the teumpet. They had an uprising and threated to shove a bayonet ‘’ I want eat shit’’.
4) The president is a yellow ‘’ coward and he is throw in to and dungeon and died.
5) I pray to see Christ because he is braver and more American then you

| Posted on 2017-02-06 | by a guest

.: :.

This poem was published in 1931, shortly after the end of WWI. It is a lament for the generation of men forced into war by the draft, and an elegy for one of the \"conscientious object-or[s]\" who were brave enough to doubt that pointless war. \"I sing of Olaf glad and big\" is a true depiction of the way conscientious objectors were treated; they were indeed thrown in to prison, sometimes after being tortured. This is one of cummings\' most explicitly political poems, and to me, one of his most poignant. It is a powerful warning about the dangers of hyper-patriotic sentiment. Best lines: \"kindred intellects evoke/allegiance per blunt instruments\" \"egged the firstclassprivates on\" \"Olaf (upon what once were knees)\" and my favorite: \"unless statistics lie he was/ more brave than me:more blond than you\"

| Posted on 2013-01-29 | by a guest

.: :.

Note this is a song - "i sing of", and thus is meant to be a sort of lament. In the traditions of such, Olaf represents a form of common suffering; that visited upon those who will not conform. Note there is very little mention of his specific "objections to war" but instead a focus on the torment he undergoes because of his refusal to do two things... kiss the flag, and eat shit.
The military is a methphor here, as it is not only soldiers that are required to do these two things, and the officers and firstclassprivates are simply symbolic for the wrath any society visits upon it members that will not approve and yeild.
Olaf is both brave (it is easier to simply go along) and blonde (he commits no actual crime). Cummings compares Olaf's bravery to his own (Cummings did not conform to traditional poetry standards, a sin that carries no real consequences) and Olaf's innocence to the reader's... a reader who has most likely committed the sins of Olaf's tormentors.
-Scott Bain-

| Posted on 2010-04-01 | by a guest

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The poem engenders two interpretations and Cummings only chooses one of them. The first interpretation centers on the fact that, if Olaf is truly against war, why is he in the military? Cummings says, that, "He is more brave than me." Cummings was a cutting-edge poet, probably told of his daring in poetry, and Cummings calls Olaf, "...more brave than me..." Cummings is saying that the bravest conscientious objector would go the the most dangerous place for protest--the military itself. The other interpretation centers on Olaf's stubbornness. This is not addressed by Cummings. Why can't Olaf serve his Country in silence and save his protest for when he leaves the military?? If he doesn't like war, why doesn't he just go AWOL?? People who don't like being told what to do, do not join the military. Cummings mentions Christ whose life is recorded in the Bible. Yet, the Bible is used to tell people what to do.
Olaf does not like being told what to do or what to believe. Thus, the second interpretation would see Olaf as just an irrationally stubborn young man.
In short, if you want to die, this is exactly the kind
of protest you should engage in.

| Posted on 2009-07-01 | by a guest

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This poem basically talkes about a soldier called Olaf who went into the military without actually wanting to. In the poem, cummings decribed the torture Olaf has to endured because he would not conform to " a conscientious object-or"
The poet expresses the bravery in Olaf; in how he stood up for his belief and not what the military forces upon him.

| Posted on 2009-02-16 | by a guest

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