Fact vs. Nonfiction in [as freedom is a breakfastfood]

“[as freedom is a breakfastfood]” is a poem written by ee cummings that embodies his eccentric style of writing, which I find incredibly interesting. Its meaning is not very straightforward, and honestly after multiple readings, I’m sure there are levels to this poem that I have yet to understand or explore. However, I believe that the craft lends itself to the ideas of fact vs. nonfiction well. For example, I think there are factual events that sparked the writing of this poem (although I’m not sure on exactly what they were- there are some thoughts that it was written about the Great Depression, but I can’t be sure about that). The concepts of the ups and downs of life are quite real, there is no dispute for that, but I believe that the style of this poem lends itself to a very whimsical reading, which I think is more closely related to nonfiction, even fiction, because there aren’t clearly defined actions with specific details.

The rhyming and slanted rhyming throughout the poem contributes to the sense of fun, as does the seemingly absurd comparisons that make up the majority of the piece. For example, “and every finger is a toe” lends itself to an almost childlike reading, putting the reader into a world of play and fantasy. This particular reading can also be supported by the made up words of “dingsters” and “dong” in the third stanza. Also, the repeated use of conjunctions throughout the poem makes me think of a kid telling a story and telling every single detail of it. The idea of childlike imagination blurs the line often blurs the line between fact and fiction, where nonfiction lies, and I think this piece mirrors that. This effect is also achieved in the typical, and in my opinion classic, style of ee cummings. The lack of punctuation or capitalization again reminds me of a younger, more naïve narrator (although the ideas and thoughts in the poem seem to come from a much older, more experienced person). There is a contrast here that I think is very natural for cummings’ poetry. There are many times where I have difficulty with it, yet he remains my favorite poet. Another technique that leads to the absurdity of this poem, leaning it away from a factual reading, is the inverted syntax. Certain lines of this poem need to be read more than once to be understood. For example, the line “or molehills are from mountains made” uses very odd grammar.

Finally, at the “line level” there is one line in this poem that is directly related to the difference between fact and nonfiction, even though it doesn’t sway me to believe that the poem is written as definitively one or the other. The second line of the poem “or truth can live with right or wrong” reminds me of a discussion we had in class. Our definitions of nonfiction included the idea that sometimes the events described didn’t actually need to have happened that exact way, but it just needed to be believable that they could have. I think that interesting idea is played with here by cummings. Of course, in such a specific discussion “truth” might not be synonymous with “fact” but nevertheless I thought it was an important line to address on this blog.

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