E. E. Cummings

November 27, 2006

e-e-cummings.jpg
(1894-1962)

American poet and painter who first attracted attention for his eccentric punctuation
Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to liberal, encouraging parents
His father was a Harvard teacher and later a Unitarian minister
Educated at Cambridge High and Latin School, and from 1911 to 1916 he attended Harvard, where he met John Dos Passos
Became an aesthete, he began to dress unconventionally, and dedicated himself to painting and literature
During the last years of World War I, he drove an ambulance in France: indiscreet comments in the letters of a friend led to Cummings’s arrest and incarceration in a French concentration camp at La Ferté-Macé: later, he found out he had been accused of treason but the charges were never proved
Supported himself by painting portraits and writing for Vanity Fair
Was married three times
Believed that modern mass society was a threat to individuals
Interersted in cubism, and jazz (which had not became mass entertainment, and contemporary slang) an unorthodox form of language
Poetry expressed his rebellious attitude towards religion, politics, and conformity
Dealt with the antagonism between an individual and masses

Quotations:

am was.  are leaves few this.  is these a or / scratchily over which of earth dragged once / -ful leaf. & were who skies clutch an of poor / how colding hereless.  air theres what immense / live without every dancing.  singless on- / ly a child’s eyes float silently down / more than two those that and that noing our / gone snow gone
                      yours mine / .  We’re
alive and shall be:cities may overflow (am / was) assassinating whole grassblades,five / ideas can swallow a man;three words im / -prison a woman for all her now:but we’ve / such freedom such intense digestion so / much greenness only dying makes us grow

-am was.  are leaves few this.  is these a or (in whole)

up into the silence the green / silence with a white earth in it
you will (kiss me) go
out into the morning the young / morning with a warm world in it
(kiss me) you will go
on into the sunlight the fine / sunlight with a firm day in it
you will go (kiss me
down into your memory and / a memory and a memory
i) kiss me (will go)

-up into the silence the green (in whole)

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

 -anyone lived in a pretty how town (in whole)

these people socalled were not given hearts / how should they be?their socalled hearts would think / these socalled people have no minds but it / they had their minds socalled would not exist 
but if these not existing minds took life / such life could not begin to live id est / breathe but if such life could its breath would stink
and so for souls why souls are wholes not parts / but all these hundred upon thousands of / people socalled if multiplies by twice / infinity could never equal one)
which may your million selves and my suffice / to through the only mystery of love / become while every sun goes round its moon 

-these people socalled were not given hearts (in whole)

if there are any heavens my mother will (all by herself) have / one. It will not be a pansy heaven nor / a fragile heaven of lilies-of-the-valley but / it will be a heaven of blackred roses
my father will be (deep like a rose / tall like a rose)
standing near my
(swaying over her / silent) / with eyes which are really petals and see
nothing with the face of a poet really which / is a flower and not a face with / hands / which whisper / This is beloved my / (suddenly in sunlight / he will bow,
& the whole garden will bow)

-if there are any heavens my mother will (all by herself) have (in whole)

O sweet spontaneous / earth how often have / the / doting
fingers of prurient philosophers pinced / and / poked
thee / , has the naughty thumb / of science prodded / thy
beaty     . how / often have religions taken / thee upon their scraggy knees / squeezing and
bufferting thee that thou mightest conceive / gods / (but / true
to the imcomparable / couch of death thy / rhythmic / lover
thou answerest
them only with
spring)

-O sweet spontaneous (in whole)

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