Wise Poets, Wise Poets of the Past

e e cummings: The Experimental Poet

e e cummings: The Experimental Poet

Today’s prevailing wisdom in literary circles is that language is fluid and the rules of grammar can be bent, as long as the skilled author intuitively knows it works. And it was most likely the influence of the innovative poet e e cummings that led to this kind of thinking because he broke the rules of grammar, syntax, and spelling in his highly experimental form of modernist free form poetry. He used small case letters, changed the spelling of words, invented his own words by combining existing words, and even assigned private meanings to words, setting the precedent for the poetic license we all enjoy today.

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

In this particular poem we see the characteristic small case letter, the bending of the rules of grammar pertaining to punctuation and the expert use of parenthesis to express deep feeling.

Edward Estlin Cummings was born on October 14, 1894 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and was one of Harvard’s native son poets with his father Edward Cummings being a professor at the university and a nationally renown Unitarian minister. E E Cummings had a good attentive mother who played games with him, gave him a lot of attention , and fostered his creative bent for art and literature, as Cunnings was an artist as well as a prolific writer. He was only a child of about eight years old when he knew he wanted to be a poet, and he wrote on average one poem a day until he produced a vast body of work of approximately 2,900 poems. The first volume of poems to be published was entitled “Tulips and Chimneys”, published in 1923, but many of his more innovative poems were cut out of the book by the publisher, So Cummings followed up by publishing a second volume containing the missing poems entitled “XLI”: two years later.

Cummings was himself a Unitarian and a Transcendentalist who believed in the goodness of man and nature and having an close intimate “I Thou” relationship with God, and the themes for his writing included this relationship with God, the high ideals of romantic love and nature. But Cummings was a rebel of the pen, and this rebellion became self evident during WWI. in 1917. when he, as a conscientious objector, volunteered to drive an ambulance in lieu of serving as a soldier and was arrested and jailed , along with a writing buddy, for flagrantly expressing anti war sentiment in his letters. despite knowing he was being monitored by the military censures. And upon his release, which was orchestrated by his influential father, after three months of imprisonment, he wrote the first of his two autobiographical novels “The Enormous Room” about lessons he learned in prison life.

However, Cummings” spiritual Transcendentalist writings about love began to become much more erotic when he fell in love with Elaine Orr, another man’s wife, who he impregnated and later married after she divorced her first husband. But then she in turn betrayed Cummings by running away with yet another man whom she met while sailing on a ship to France,

Cummings would eventually make a trip to the Soviet Union believing that he would find a compassionate utopia there, but was instead very deeply disillusioned by the totalitarian government there and the group-think of the Sate. Individualism and personal creativity was very important to the man.

e e cummings died on September 3, 1962 from bleeding on the brain. The man led a long prolific life.

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