Updated: Feb 2
Edward Estlin Cummings. an American poet, October 14, 1894 – September 3, 1962
those who know me well, know of my love of poetry. I read poetry, I write poetry. for me, poetry is food for the soul.
EE Cummings wrote poetry of love, eroticism, political satires and everyday life (drunks, prostitutes, cafes, Salvation Army workers to name a few) during a time when it was unpopular to do so.
although his poetic technique is known for its unusual lyric free form; using the rhythms of common speech rather than metrical regularity, avoiding wornout dictation, using verbs as nouns, omitting punctuation marks and utilising lowercase letters to depict meaning (his use of lowercase “i” was his self-depiction as a man unnoticed, downtrodden, a dreamer), he was actually quite traditional, usually using modern twists on sonnet structure.
much is known about his life; he was born in Massachusetts in 1894. his dad was a professor at Harvard and his mum fostered his love of literature early on, regularly reading him poetry. he wrote his first poem when he was three: “Oh,the pretty birdie,O;/with his little toe,toe,toe!”
after graduating from Cambridge and then Harvard in 1916 he enlisted in the US Army to fight in WWI, spending a brief period imprisoned in France for suspicion of espionage. here he wrote his first book The Enormous Room. later, he studied art in Paris, worked for Vanity Fair in New York, married three times, travelled throughout Europe, had a daughter named Nancy.
he was deeply affected by his father’s sudden death by a gruesome train accident in 1926. read “my father moved through dooms of love,” which is a profoundly moving tribute.
I am a huge fan of his odd typography and punctuation combined with the whimsical romanticism and satire. my two favourite poems being:
I carry you in my heart (I carry it in my heart) i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling) i fear no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) i want no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true) and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
you said Is there anything which is dead or alive more beautiful than my body, to have in your fingers (trembling ever so little)? Looking into your eyes Nothing, i said, except the air of spring smelling of never and forever. ….and through the lattice which moved as if a hand is touched by a hand (which moved as though fingers touch a girl’s breast, lightly) Do you believe in always,the wind said to the rain I am too busy with my flowers to believe, the rain answered
he published 15 poetic works during his lifetime and 2 posthumously. the more well known being Tulips and Chimneys (1923), is 5 (1926), Collected Poems (1960) and 95 Poems (1958). he was also a playwright, publishing 4 Plays, as well as many articles for various magazines and literary organisations. in the 1950s he took positions at various universities reading poetry and even lectured at Harvard for a couple of years.
he died in at the age of 67 in New Hampshire. his spirit lives on through his prose.
research sources from Wikipedia, Notable Biographies.com, American National Biography Online & American Poems.com