More than 200 of E.E. Cummings’ poems have been set to music by the composer Vincent Persichetti and others. Sam the man, of this poem was Silver Lake’s own Sam Ward. Enjoy this post from the blog “Thoughtful Gestures”.

Thoughtful Gestures

I’ve always wanted to write about “sam was a man” by Vincent Persichetti.  I sang it in high school, then conducted it with my women’s choir when I taught high school, and then also conducted it with my community choir and the UConn Festival Chorus in 2009.  (Sadly, Festival Chorus had to drop it from the final program due to weather-related rehearsal cancellations.)  Every time I do it, I love it more, and I’ve got all these ideas I want to get out in the world.  So this is going to be one long post.

First, some things about the poem:

It’s by e. e. cummings.

Sam was a real guy.


  • It’s short: six four-line stanzas alternating with one-line stanzas.
  • The only phrase that is repeated is “sam was a man,” which appears as the first one-line stanza and at the beginning of the last four-line…

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