The term caesura (SAY-zhoo-ruh) refers to any interruption or break that occurs in the middle of a poetic line. Poets often caesura to various effects, though typically this device functions to manipulate the sense of pace. Using punctuation in the middle of a line forces the reader to pause before proceeding with the rest of the line. In the case of “i carry your heart with me,” however, Cummings uses caesura to visual more than rhythmic effect. Perhaps the first thing a new reader will notice about the poem is the lack of spaces whenever any punctuation is introduced into the line. Consider the opening quatrain (lines 1–4):

     i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
     my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
     i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
     by only me is your doing,my darling)

All four lines feature internal punctuation. In the first two lines, the only punctuation marks are open and close parentheses. These parentheses don’t necessarily force a pause in the reading. Even so, the compression created by removing the spaces between words—as in “me(carry”—draws the eye and suspends the reader’s gaze. The third and fourth lines both feature commas and semicolons, which force more of a pause in the rhythm than parentheses. However, their primary effect is arguably still visual, as suggested by the particularly dense formulation from line 3: “go,my dear;and.”

Parenthetical Statements

Parenthetical statements appear frequently throughout “i carry your heart with me.” In writing, parentheticals are used to insert information that is of secondary importance to the information conveyed in the main text. That said, parentheticals can serve many functions. They can be used to give examples or make clarifications of something discussed in the main text. They can also be used to comment on whatever is going on in the main text. In the case of “i carry your heart with me,” the speaker’s parentheticals primarily serve the purpose of emphasis and clarification. For instance, the speaker opens the poem by declaring, “i carry your heart with me(i carry it in / my heart)” (lines 1–2). Here, the content in the parenthetical repeats the basic sentiment expressed in the main sentence, emphasizing the speaker’s care for their beloved. However, the parenthetical also offers a subtle clarification, indicating that they specifically carry their beloved’s heart in their own heart. Later in the poem, the speaker uses a much longer parenthetical to create a more digressive effect:

     here is the deepest secret nobody knows
     (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
     and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
     higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
     and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

In this passage (lines 10–14), a three-line parenthetical interrupts and overshadows the main sentence, even as it seeks to help clarify the sentence’s main idea.


Diacope (die-ACK-uh-pee) is a term used to identify instances where individual words or phrases are repeated in quick succession, often with a few words between each instance. As with other forms of repetition, poets often use this rhetorical technique to express strong emotions. This is precisely the effect that Cummings achieves in his use of diacope throughout the poem. For a useful example, consider the transition into the second quatrain (lines 5–7):

                                                               i fear
     no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
     no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

Two different types of diacope are at play in this short passage, as indicated by the bold and un-italicized text. First, there’s the repetition of the key words “fate” and “world” through the use of patterned contrast. The speaker contrasts the phrases “no fate” and “my fate” to emphasize how the only fate they want will relate to their beloved. The speaker similarly contrasts “no world” and “my world” to insist that the only world they want is the world that belongs to their beloved. The second type of diacope appears in the grammar of possession that repeats four times: “my fate,” “my sweet,” “my world,” and “my true.” These examples of repetition amplify the sense of the speaker’s belonging to their beloved.