Little Tree Poem by E.E Cummings Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English for Students


The poem “little tree” was written by E.E Cummings. It was published in 1921 in a magazine named The Dial Magazine. A child is the speaker of the poem. The poet has written the poem from a child’s point of view. Thus, the language is simple and childlike. The outline of the poem is a young child speaking with the little tree that has been brought from the forest. The child consoles the tree with his warm words and promises that he will use ornaments to decorate the little tree. So, the tree can be proud when it gets displayed during Christmas time.

About the Poet:

E.E. Cummings is an American poet, author, and playwright. Throughout his lifetime, the writer has produced enormous poems, plays, and books. Many of his poems are sonnets. But due to his unique approach to capitalization and punctuation, the readers find it difficult to recognise it as a sonnet. His poetry is categorised under the title “Modernist free verse poetry”. He is one of the most popular poets of the twentieth century for his unique writing style.


The “little tree” is a lyric poem.  It is written from a first person point of view. It consists of 7 quatrains. Thus it has 28 lines in total. There is no full stop throughout the poem. But the poet uses a few commas so that it makes the readers stop and understand the ideas. Each stanza presents a complete idea. 


The young child addresses the little tree in the poem. He tries to comfort the little tree that has been brought from the forest for the Christmas season. Throughout the poem, the young speaker treats the little tree as a kid and comforts him with his words. He shows the little tree with the decorative items and promises that after the decoration, he will look beautiful. He assures that there will not be a single place in the body of the little tree that goes unnoticed. He then tells the little tree about his sister, who is ready to dance and sing around the tree.

Poem Analysis:

Lines 1-4:

little tree

little silent Christmas tree

you are so little

you are more like a flower

The child is so happy to receive the little tree in his house. He addresses the little tree as “little silent Christmas tree”. Because the child knows the little tree has come into his house for Christmas decoration. The child treats the tree like a little child. He calls it so little and compares it with a flower. The young could see the delicate nature of the little tree.

Lines 5-8:

who found you in the green forest

and were you very sorry to come away?

see      i will comfort you

because you smell so sweetly

The child now talks about the past of the tree. He says the little tree was brought from the green forest. He asks whether he is sorry to leave his place. He tries to comfort the little tree. The childlike nature can be seen in the line, 

“see i will comfort you”

because he talks to the tree as if the tree could reply to him. The young child tells, that the little tree smells sweet, which refers to the freshness of the little tree.

Lines 9-12:

i will kiss your cool bark

and hug you safe and tight

just as your mother would,

only don't be afraid

The young child in this stanza says he will kiss the cool bark. The young child wants to make the little tree comfortable. So, he will hug him safely. The young child is comparing himself to a mother who hugs the tree safe and tight. So, he assures the little tree not to be afraid, as he could take care of him like his mother.

Lines 13 -16:

look      the spangles

that sleep all the year in a dark box

dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,

the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

The young child treats the tree as a little kid. He asks the tree to look at the spangles, which were sleeping all year in the dark box. Now, it is taken out of the box and allowed to shine during the Christmas season. The young child brings the atmosphere of Christmas to the little tree when he mentions decorative items like balls and chains. The young child mentions the colours red and gold, which are symbols of Christmas.

Lines 17 – 20:

put up your little arms

and i'll give them all to you to hold

every finger shall have its ring

and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy

The young child in this stanza promises the little tree. He says he will give all the decorative items to him to make them look bright and shine. When he says,

“every finger shall have its ring

and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy.”

It means that he will decorate his fingers with the items so that they look like a ring on the finger. Here, the word “finger” symbolises little branches. He promises to the little tree that there will not be a single place in the body of the tree that goes unnoticed or unhappy. As the young child treats the little tree like a kid, he wants to make sure that the tree is not happy in his new place. So he wants to fill the heart of the tree with joy.

Lines 21 -24:

then when you're quite dressed

you'll stand in the window for everyone to see

and how they'll stare!

oh but you'll be very proud

The young child tells the little tree when he gets dressed. It is time for the little tree to stand in the window. So, everyone who comes across the window will see and stare at his beautiful decoration. But the little tree can be proud of displaying his beauty in the eyes of the people.

Lines 25-28:

and my little sister and i will take hands

and looking up at our beautiful tree

we'll dance and sing

"Noel Noel"

The young child now mentions his little sister in this stanza. He is informing the little tree that after decorating him, he and his little sister will dance and sing “Noel Noel” to the little Christmas tree. Throughout the poem, the young child has treated the little tree like a family member.