Cummings’ poem “the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls,” is an analysis and an attack, on a certain part of society he dislikes. Cummings was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and later attended college at Harvard, which is where his observations of the “Cambridge ladies” come from. His observations, however, do not only pertain to this specific group of people in this region, but also to all people who act the way he describes.
He describes the Cambridge ladies as “unbeautiful and have comfortable minds,” meaning they do not think in an original or innovative way, or take risks, instead sticking to simple thoughts of what they know. He also says they are “unscented shapeless,” meaning instead of being individuals and holding their own shapes or distinct “scents,” they think the same way everyone else does, allowing themselves to mold into whatever form society wants them to take.
By writing, “they believe in Christ and Longfellow, both dead,” Cummings is saying that these women are stiff in their beliefs and thoughts, and do not evolve along with the times. Their ideas and thoughts are centered on old works that have been analyzed and referenced for centuries and Cummings is portraying them as stuffy and boring. This idea is further portrayed with the line “while permanent faces coyly bandy scandal of Mrs. N and Professor D.” Instead of engaging in interesting conversations of current events or other modern topics, the women gossip or talk about other things that do not matter.
In Cummings’ opinion, the ladies do not spend enough time thinking about the things Cummings feels are important, such as “if sometimes in its box of sky lavender and cornerless, the moon rattles like a fragment of angry candy.” The way Cummings describes the moon in this final line is a sharp contrast to the way he describes the Cambridge ladies. He uses an explosion of adjectives to describe the details of the sky and moon; details that this section of society overlooks in favor of meaningless things. The message Cummings is trying to send with this poem, and with many of his poems, is that details matter.