"l(a" is a poem by E. E. Cummings. It is the first poem in his 1958 collection 95 Poems.
"l(a" is arranged vertically in groups of one to five letters. When the text is laid out horizontally, it reads as l(a leaf falls)oneliness —in other words, a leaf falls inserted within the first two letters of loneliness.
Robert DiYanni notes that the image of a single falling leaf is a common symbol for loneliness, and that this sense of loneliness is enhanced by the structure of the poem. He writes that the fragmentation of the words "illustrates visually the separation that is the primary cause of loneliness". The fragmentation of the word loneliness is especially significant, since it highlights the fact that that word contains the word one. In addition, the isolated letter l can initially appear to be the numeral one. Robert Scott Root-Bernstein observes that the overall shape of the poem resembles a 1.
Further suggestions for interpretation (collected at an English language-class in Germany in the 1980ies, all underlining the “loneliness”) may be:
• The “a” in the first line (as indefinite article) represents singularity.
• The “le” in the second line is the French equivalent to “the” (again “singularity”).
• If the first letters of line 6 to 9 are read downward, they read “soli”, which in Latin means “only”.
• e.e. cummings's "L(a".
• Measured by sheer boldness of experiment, no American poet compares to him, for he slipped Houdini-like out of the locked box of the stanza, then leaped from the platform of the poetic line into an unheard-of way of writing poetry.
-- Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, writing about e.e. cummings --
The poetry of e.e. cummings (1894-1962) is something that is extremely new to me, and I cannot emphasize that enough. Truly, I do not even begin to assume that I understand…...