“ Buffalo Bill’s Defunct” Joey Willoughby ENG 125 Introduction to Literature Instructor: Katie Newbanks 5/16/2011 Buffalo Bill’s Defunct E. E. Cumming’s,” Buffalo Bill’s Defunct” is a somewhat difficult poem to interpret. The poem displays peculiarities of sound structure, as well as line and stanza. What we don’t see, in this poem, is as vital to our understanding of the poem, as what we do see. “ Buffalo Bill’s Defunct” is an extremely short poetic piece consisting of only eleven lines and is a free verse, open form classification of poetry in reference to mortality.
The poem can also be considered as onomatopoeia in nature due to the utilization of words to represent sound. The nature of the poem is also based on a centralized protestation of death of an individual that provided enjoyment to the lives of others. Example: how do you like your blueeyed boy Mister Death. Cummings sarcastically refers to “blueeyed boy” as simply another deceased person, as opposed to his earlier depiction of Buffalo Bill’s appearance as a “handsome man” with many accomplishments in life.
My interpretation of the poem is that he appears to be saying to Mister Death ”You took him, but you’re not going to get any enjoyment from doing so. ” Cummings is essentially blaming Mister Death and insinuates to him that he will give Buffalo Bill new life. There were many composites of this particular poem that captured my attention at the very beginning of the analysis. The particular style of wording of the poem (structurally) suggests to me an arrowhead. This is significant as in life Buffalo Bill, a frontier scout was associated with Native Americans and was a wild west outlaw.
The unconventional syntax, style of language, and lack of punctuation also attracted my attention to the poem. Cummings also uses eccentric topography and word arrangement in his work. Example: The word Defunct, (line 2) is an eye catching word as it dwells in a space where one would expect to visualize the word “dead” or “deceased. ” (Clugston, R. W. ) Single words are presented to the reader as complete lines. Example: (line 1) Buffalo Bill’s, (line 2) Defunct, (line 7) Jesus, and (line 11) Mister Death.
The only capitalization of words are (line 7) Jesus, (line 1) Buffalo Bill’s and (line 11) Mister Death. “Buffalo Bill and Mr. Death enclose the poetic material and “Jesus” is set apart by itself, to the furthermost right extremes of the poem. Example: (line 1) the beginning – Buffalo Bill’s and (line 11) Mister Death at the poem’s end. (Clugston, R. W. ) The word arrangement also attracted my attention. Example: (line 6) “onetwothreefour pigeons” and (line 6) “justlikethat. ”This presentation of words is known as neologisms, which is defined as a new usage of a word.
These visual effects are intended to assist in the translation of what we read. Example: ( eye>voice>ear) so that we recognize the stress in each instance. For example, in (line 6) “onetwothreefour pigeons” one can almost hear the short, sharp sounds of the gunshots in the rapid fire shooting of the clay pigeons. I believe that poetry is meant to be heard. “Buffalo Bill’s Defunct” definitely provided this sensory effect, as I could almost hear the gunshots via reading the words of the poem.
This type of word arrangement could also be an indication that Cummings possessed a great admiration for Buffalo Bill’s shooting prowess and is a direct reference also, to the “Wild West Show” circa (1890) where Buffalo Bill performed in his later years. In (line 7) of “Buffalo Bill’s Defunct,” Cummings uses the single word “Jesus” which was quite baffling to me. I came to the conclusion that this provided a contrast between “Jesus” who is typically referred to in the light of love and peace, while Buffalo Bill was notorious for fights and etc.
In comparison of Buffalo Bill and Jesus both are noted to have an association with the death process. (Clugston, R. W. ) Metaphorically speaking, Cummings utilized two very opposing characters in his poem, Buffalo Bill and Jesus. The metaphoric process is very unique in the fact that it sets objects which are unlike together and hones in on getting the reader to acknowledge the resemblance between the two. In (lines 4 -5), Buffalo Bill’s horse is an excellent sensory image, as one can almost visualize the gray-colored, sleek steed with Buffalo Bill as rider galloping across the plains.
This signifies that the poem possesses aesthetic merit, as we envision the beauty of this mighty stallion. (Clugston, R. W. ) The differences between speech and poetic form affected my experience of the poem by allowing me to put myself in Cumming’s position and actually feel what he was feeling as he wrote the poem. Cummings is saying, Okay, Buffalo Bill is dead, but he will forever be remembered as he was when he was living. “You can’t take that away, Mister Death!
Perhaps the final rhetoric question to Mister Death says it better: “ how do you like your blueeyed boy” He is essentially telling Mister Death that (you have him, but you do not have in your possession what we had. )(Clugston, R. W. ) “Buffalo Bill’s Defunct,” addresses a common human experience “death” and puts emphasis on the fact that those who have passed over are gone, but not forgotten. E. E. Cummings, “Buffalo Bill’s Defunct is a somewhat difficult poem to interpret.
The poem displays peculiarities of sound structure, as well as line and stanza. What we don’t see is as vital to our understanding of the poem, as what we do see. Here’s to Buffalo Bill. May he remain as alive in our lives today as when he rode his handsome stallion in the “Wild West Show” of yesteryear. References Clugston, R. W. (2010) Journey into Literature, San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. http: www. content. ashford. edu Table 1 Insert Table Title Here Figure Captions Figure 1. Insert figure caption here.