Monday, 22 September 2014

Entertainment Monday: e.e. cummings (Monday 9.22.2014)‏

*Posted on behalf of Jon Bear. Jon Bear is having computer troubles and won't be posting for himself until he can get a new computer. 

Self Portrait of e.e cummings
Today is not only Entertainment Monday, but it is also my oldest brother Robert's birthday, so I would like to take a moment to wish him a very happy birthday!  

Poetry, is not for everyone, and I myself am not always astute or adept at pulling meaning from poems.  Once I had a poetry class in college though and I enjoyed it immensely.  When I took the time to try and decipher meaning it was a challenge, and not one I always succeeded in, but fun none the less.  It's difficult for me to describe the emotions poetry can elicit.  They are like lyrical word puzzles that can even be artistic in the case of a poet like e.e. cummings.  

e.e. cummings is one of my favorite poets.  Edward Estlin Cummings was an American artist in every sense of the word.  He wrote poetry, plays and essays and also liked to draw and paint.  Cummings lived from 1894 - 1962 and throughout his life he published thousands of poems.  Some of his poems stand out for the way in which he chose to artistically arrange language or use symbols and punctuation.  His choices were pointed though and not made willy nilly.  Many of his poem's themes are basic themes surrounding life, love and nature.   

I decided to focus on two of his poems I particularly enjoy here.

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

By E. E. Cummings 

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)

I love this poem from cummings because of how it both simplifies and magnifies love.  The way I read it might be different from how others do, but I think that is part of what art and poetry is.  The form and shape it takes can be different for all of us.  I think this poem capture's the essence of love beautifully.

I'm not going to break down the poem verse by verse, but give a couple of thoughts I have from it. 

Some people look at their fears as being all consuming and that which can encompass our minds.  cummings looks for a word stronger and more encompassing then fear to describe love.  So what can be more encompassing than fear?  How about fate?  Only that what is meant to be beyond reason or feeling.  

He says that love is the " root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky", so ultimately he's saying love is the very foundation of all.  Of everything both seen and unseen.  Of what's in us (the root which exists below ground and can not be seen) of what is us (the bud or the beautiful people we are) and what exists all around us (the sky, a boundless expanse).   

I also like this poem a lot because of the criticism that was sometime directed at cummings for his erotic poetry.  He wasn't some pervert, he was an observer of life, and critics of his erotic poetry should take all of his poetry into account.  He was someone who realized that both romanticism and eroticism are parts of life, and he did not hide from the subject of either in his poems. 

Another romantic poem of cummings and one of my favorite poems ever is [anyone lived in a pretty how town]

[anyone lived in a pretty how town]

By E. E. Cummings

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

This poem is again a beautiful depiction of love between two people.  It does not glorify love or gloat about love and the poem does not beat it's chest so to speak.  It minimizes the scope of love perhaps and it's effect on others but it celebrates and personalizes love as well.  Two people in love could be anyone or noone.  In a contradictory kind of way the poem focuses and highlights the individual without identify the individual by name.  The names of the people do not matter, they're irrelevant.  It's the love they've shared that is relevant.  The two people in the poem can be people who pass by us each day and we take no note of.  Or it could be us as we pass by others who take no notice of our lives.  What matters is the love that exists between the two people who love one another.   The seasons pass in the poem and time goes on as anyone and noone grow old together.

Perhaps my favorite line in any poem I've read is when cummings writes, "One day anyone died I guess (and noone stooped to kiss his face) * cummings spelling errors were often and perhaps always intentional* 

Two words really bring home the privacy and personalization of love.... the words, "I guess" because not even the author knows or noticed when "anyone" died.  The only person taking notice of his passing is noone who stooped to kiss him. It's such an innocent and gentle recognition of two people who have loved one another and spent their lives together immersed in each other, while the sun, moon, stars and rain circled around them.   

Eventually they die without fan fare (but even then they remain together when buried side by side) and life goes on for the women and men (both dong and ding) who are all around.  =) 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your favourite poems Jon and giving an interpretation of what you think they might mean. As you say, people can read whatever they like in poetry. I think e.e cummings was a clever man and his writing seems simple on the surface but is complex when you analyse it.
    I enjoy some poetry but I find that it's easier to find bad poetry or poetry that I don't like before I find something that I do.


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