What does the poem "she being Brand/ -new" by E. E. Cummings mean?


Quick Answer

On its surface, "she being Brand / -new," a poem by E.E. Cummings, describes both the joy of driving a new car and the pleasure of new sexual experience. The poem never explicitly refers to sexual intercourse. However, every ostensibly automotive image it presents is analogous to the sexual experience.

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Full Answer

The poem begins with the speaker describing a "she" who is "Brand / -new; and you / know consequently a / little stiff." The "she" here seems to be a woman, but the speaker then indicates that he is describing, at least on the superficial level, a car by using words relating to car maintenance, such as "radiator," "gas" "springs" and "carburetor." He then describes the initial difficulties of driving the car: "i went right to it flooded / the-carburetor cranked her // up,slipped the / clutch (and then somehow got into reverse she / kicked what / the hell)." However, soon the speaker and his woman/car are turning onto "Divinity // avenue." The action progresses to a climax and then a sudden, sated stop: "brought allofher tremB / -ling / to a:dead. // stand- / ;Still)". The poem never mentions sex, but the ambiguous opening makes the reader imagine a woman, and the carefully chosen descriptions and climactic, shuddering finale unambiguously evoke sexual intercourse. The poem is rife with the eccentric punctuation characteristic of Cummings's poetry, which slows down or speeds up the narrative flow in an interesting, meaningful way.

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