“May I Feel Said He”



may i feel said he
(i’ll squeal said she
just once said he)
it’s fun said she

(may i touch said he
how much said she
a lot said he)
why not said she

(let’s go said he
not too far said she
what’s too far said he
where you are said she)

may i stay said he
which way said she
like this said he
if you kiss said she

may i move said he
is it love said she)
if you’re willing said he
(but you’re killing said she

but it’s life said he
but your wife said she
now said he)
ow said she

(tiptop said he
don’t stop said she
oh no said he)
go slow said she

(cccome?said he
ummm said she)
you’re divine!said he
(you are Mine said she)


From the oeuvre of the wonderfully contrarian punctualist Edward Estlin Cummings (aka ee cummings). The poem is a delightfully naughty and sensually ecstatic tribute to love and the mating ritual. Originally published in Cumming’s 1935 No Thanks collection, may i feel said he is one of the poet’s most original and best loved works.



For those so inspired, think of the whimsy of the words paired with the lyricism of Marc Chagall’s floating lovers and violin-playing horses. It can be yours, courtesy of Amazon.

Intrigued by the many facets of this most essential of emotions, Chagall once wrote, “Is it not true that painting and color are inspired by love?” He was 85.



Cumming’s voluptuous sketch of Elaine Thayer, the poet’s first wife.




~ by eaesthete on 04/28/10.

8 Responses to ““May I Feel Said He””

  1. I love this poem, I love your blog, I love how you think!


    That’s quite a lot of love!
    Quite a lot of thanks!

  2. Feeling warm now!

  3. funny little poem. i was trying to guess the author throughout but was WAY OFF. first, i thought ee was gay. apparently not. i’ve probably confused him w/ wh auden or some other poet using initials. really fun.

  4. Feeling the urges of spring are we? I am, I do, always, even in winter. Time to take out that dusty Stravinsky CD and listen to that lusty orchestration “The Rite of Spring”.

  5. Stravinsky is a fine choice, although personally speaking, I think ‘The Firebird’ might be closer to what I had in mind.

  6. Would this poem speak in lovely veils to Marion Morehouse? I was recently at a Steichen lecture that made mention of the Morehouse/ee cummings liaison. She was a very beautiful woman.

  7. This has stayed with me since I first read it here. Poetry has never been my first interest. I’m linking to you tomorrow. I want my husband to read this. He, alas, has not read much poetry either as medical journals have been his reading material of necessity since he was a mere 16.

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