Sometimes loving someone is messy.  Sometimes it’s complicated. Sometimes it’s frustrating or even “angrifying” (a word my daughter, Abigail, made up which comes in handily…)

And sometimes we make “loving” a whole lot of work.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “Well, we’re working on our marriage. I don’t know…maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t. (sigh.)”

Well, not all of us.

Sometimes, “loving” just happens. (If we let it.) Sometimes it’s just “there.” It’s just “how it is.” And always will be.

Without a lot of fanfare or pretense; without “grading” and “judgements.” Or score cards. Or volumes of analysis… “Am I happy yet??”

That’s the kind of love e.e. cummings wrote about in one of my favorite poems, “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town…” 

It’s about two simple, I guess “ordinary,” uncomplicated, non-judgemental people – one whom cummings called “anyone” and the other whom he called “noone.”

eecummings, 1894 - 1962

“anyone lived in a pretty how town

(with up so floating many bells down)

spring summer autumn winter

he sang his didn’t he danced his did.”


Obviously, “anyone” was a simple, open-hearted guy who loved simple things…he took life as it came and expected the best.


“Women and men (both little and small)

cared for anyone not at all

they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same

sun moon stars rain”


I’ve thought a lot about this stanza. If people didn’t “like” “anyone,” I doubt very much if it bothered him…or if he even noticed. He had “noone…’


“children guessed (but only a few

and down they forgot as up they grew

autumn winter spring summer)                               

that noone loved him more by more”


If someone (even if they’re “noone,”) loves you “more by more” it really doesn’t matter who doesn’t “care for you,” does it?


“when by now and tree by leaf

she laughed his joy she cried his grief

bird by snow and stir by still                         

anyone’s any was all to her”


“anyone” loved “noone” wholeheartedly – every bit of him. She didn’t stop to tally up the good and the bad; or say “Of course, if only he’d be a little more, uh, you know, well, ‘aggressive’ or ‘successful.’ I’d love him more…” He was ‘her person,” as we say in our family.


“someones married their everyones

laughed their cryings and did their dance

(sleep wake hope and then) they

said their nevers, they slept their dreams’


The “more important” people, the ones who were “someones” didn’t bother to be empathetic or truly love to each other; they laughed at each others’ sadness and went on dancing. They had no real dreams; “dreaming” was a waste of time.


“stars rain sun moon

(and only the snow can begin to explain

how children are apt to forget to remember

with up so floating many bells down)”


cummings’ repetition of the phrase, “stars rain sun moon” for me, means the inevitable passing of time; and our habit of not noticing – or cherishing – the moment. We’re too busy “getting through” another day. And then another one after that. We say “whew!” a lot…


“one day anyone died i guess

(and noone stooped to kiss his face)

busy folk buried them side by side

little by little and was by was”


At least the “someones” in the “pretty how town” weren’t too busy to bury “anyone” and “noone” next to each other so they  could keep “being there” for each other – no matter what. And perhaps “noone” could keep telling “someone” that she loved him “more by more.” And he would smile. And squeeze her hand.


“all by all and deep by deep

and more by more they dream their sleep

noone and anyone earth by april

wish by spirit and if by yes.”


Their love grew deeper no matter how fast the earth turned, or the seasons past. It wasn’t a question “if” they would be “allowed” to stay together; it was a fact that “yes, they would always be together. It was simply the way it was.


“Women and men (both dong and ding)

summer autumn winter spring

reaped their sowing and went their came

sun moon stars rain”

Life continued as usual in the “Pretty How Town.” People came and went and forgot why. The seasons past and they didn’t notice. Nor were they changed by them.
But “anyone” and “noone” felt the sun, marveled at the moon, wished on the stars and opened their hearts to the rain.

And simply loved on…

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