Louis J. Budd: On "Buffalo Bill's"

 ...Cummings regards the hero as a distressingly revered caricature of genuinely human actions and values, an avatar of stillborn sentience.

The poem's attitude is epitomized in the word "defunct." Buffalo Bill has not undergone a tragic crisis, he has not passed through a spiritual ordeal; he simply has ceased operating, liquidated like a bank or a poorly-place filling station. The reader primarily realizes that William F. Cody will no longer prance through metropolitan hippodromes as the chief asset of a gaudy commercial venture. More broadly, the reader should recognize that the westering dream and nostalgic enjoyment of that dream are ended, the dream ripped by realities or stultified by vulgar misuse and the nostalgia deflated by post-Versailles cynicism. Buffalo Bill and his cohorts, galloping through this world in a blinding shroud of physical exertions divorced from meaningful reality, never were alive to tulips or the small white hands of the rain and can be scarcely said to have died.

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Title Louis J. Budd: On "Buffalo Bill's" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Louis J. Budd Criticism Target E. E. Cummings
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 04 Aug 2021
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication Cummings' 'Buffalo Bill's Defunct
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