Ee c u m m i n g s
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(Ee c)u m!M i , n, g -s. Biography. EE C ummings was born in October 14, 1894. In the next 67 years, he would write 12 volumes of poetry, write and produce plays, and hold his own art shows .

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Ee c u m m i n g s

(Eec)um!Mi , n, g-s


Ee c u m m i n g s

Biography


Ee c u m m i n g s

EECummings was born in October 14, 1894. In the next 67 years, he would write 12 volumes of poetry, write and produce plays, and hold his own art shows.

Creativity blossomed early in Cummings’ life. His mother, always reading stories and drawing for her children, paved to the way to EECumming’s many artistic endeavours. Even as a child, he would love to sketch, and this would continue throughout his life. His first poems and stories were published in his school newspaper.    

The university to which he applied and was accepted by was Harvard. He enjoyed it there and acquired his Bachelor of Art’s degree in 1915, followed closely by his Master of Art’s degree in 1916. He would return there later to lecture.

EECummings lived in many locales. Beginning in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he later moved to Paris and studied painting. He would later move to New York, but spend his summers in New Hampshire.

He had many influences. Some of these include: Ezra Pound, his father, Stein, Dada, and surrealism.

He loved cubism and futurism in painting. He studied late impressionist painting in Paris. He was so talented as to have shows from 1940-1950. While he was talented in these areas, he never made as much as he did off poetry.

When the first world war struck, he would move before his country. While a member of an ambulance corps in France, he would be arrested alongside his friend on suspicion of being against the French war. He would spend 3 months in a detention camp. This would lead to his book The Enormous Room.


Ee c u m m i n g s

Cumming’s had an interesting love life. Throughout his life he had 3 wives. His first wife, Elaine Orr, was first married to EECummings’ Harvard friend in 1919. Before she obtained a divorce from him, EE Cummings’ daughter was born in 1919. They were married in 1924. This strange relationship ended soon after when Orr ran away to Ireland to another man, taking his only child.

Five years later, he married again. Anne Minnerly Barton and EECummings were married on May 1, 1929, and left each other in 1932.

His final, and longest lasting marriage was to Marion Morehouse. It is unknown if a formal wedding ever occurred, but they resided together until EECummings’ death. Morehouse and Cummings met the same year that he separated from his second wife.

His father’s death was a difficult period of his life. His father was one of his influences, and a very close and an admired member of his family. The nature of his death did not ease this pain. His parents’ car was cut in half by a train, killing his father instantly and seriously injuring his mother. His mother would survive her fractured skull. This terrible accident did not throw Cummings into depression. The poem he wrote for his father’s funeral my father moved through dooms of love was an exaltation of his life. This period of time also brought some perspective to his poetry.

From around age fifty seven until his death, EECummings lectured, travelled, and visited one of his favourite places, Joy Farm, his summer home in New Hampshire. He died at the age of sixty seven of a stroke, on September 3, 1962.


Ee c u m m i n g s

Cummings: The Artist


Ee c u m m i n g s

Poetic Style


Ee c u m m i n g s

Devices

Cummings utilizes accentual verse. Because of this device, which gives an almost childish feel to the poem, the poem has a strange contradiction of the message of the poem, and the audible lilt of the poem.

Syntax

the way in which linguistic elements (as words) are put together to form constituents (as phrases or clauses)Syntax refers to word order and sentence structure. Normal word order in English sentences is firmly fixed in subject-verb-object sequence or subject-verb-complement. In poetry, word order may be shifted around to meet emphasis, to heighten the connection between two words, or to pick up on specific implications or traditions.EE Cummings messes with syntax to create different rhythms, and a unique poem. (one of his main goals as he snubbed normalcy)


Ee c u m m i n g s

Key words:octave = eight lines in iambic

pentameter/hendecasyllables

sestet = same as above, but six lines

volta = shift/point of dramatic change

iambic pentameter = 5 iambs to a line.

iamb = da DUM, not stressed stressed, short

followed by long

Sonnets

origins: Italian sonetto (little sound or song).- fourteen line, iambic pentameter.- most popular or influential= the Petrarchan (OR ITALIAN) or Shakespearean

There are five types of sonnets. They are sometimes written in iambic pentameter.They are Sicilian, French, English, Petrarchan, Spenserian. The Petrarchan and Shakespearean sonnets are the most popular. Sonnets usually contain 14 lines. How these 14 lines are divided depend on the type.

Everything but English and SpenserianThere is an octet, followed by a sestet. There is a volta between the octet and sestet. English and SpenserianMade up of 3 quatrains followed by a rhymed couplet. Instead of volta, there is a shift (gentler volta) between the third and fourth quatrains.

The rhyming schemes may be:English: abab cdcd efef ggSpenserian: abab, bcbc, cdcd, ee.Sicilian sonnet: a.b.b.a..cdc dcd

Italian: a-b-b-a, a-b-b-a c-d-e-c-d-e and c-d-c-c-d-c.

There is an octave of alternating rhyme "In the initial version, the same word was repeated instead of new words being introduced in rhyme."


Ee c u m m i n g s

  • In general

  • The poetry of EE Cummings has been categorized as:

  • Blues Poetry: Both blues music and poetry utilize lyric, rhythm and rhyme. Blues form is poetry that relates to blues music in theme (ex: lost love).

  • Concrete Poetry: In concrete poetry the typographical arrangement of the words in important in conveying the effect and elements of the poem.

  • Futurist: Futurists believed that the constraints of syntax were inappropriate to modern life and that it did not truly represent the mind of the poet. Syntax would act as a filter in which analogies had to be processed and so analogies would lose their characteristic "stupefaction." By abolishing syntax, the analogies would become more effective.

  • Essentially, all ideas of meter were rejected and the word became the main unit of concern instead of the meter. In this way, the Futurists managed to create a new language free of syntax punctuation, and metrics that allowed for free expression.

"What is identifiably Cummings style is all here: the uncapitalized 'i'; the use of parentheses and the ampersand; the spacing for visual and aural purposes; the punctuation for effect; the running of words together to create a wholeness out of separateness; the unique imagery ('hair-thin tints,' 'women coloured twilight'); the syntactical interruptions; and the creation of an adverb -- 'sayingly' out of another part of speech. And yet these are not just tricks for the sake of a unique semantic; the saying is integral to the meaning."

- Washington Post


Ee c u m m i n g s

Poetic Analysis


Ee c u m m i n g s

  • EECummings, snubbing normalcy in poetry as he does, is difficult to read at times. Here are some tips.

  • Read aloud

  •  Read many times

  • Omit punctuation

  • Read things in parentheses as one, or separately.

  • If a word doesn’t make sense, rearrange the letters 

  • if it is a jumble of random letters (or appears that way), just read the whole poem quickly as words will form when letters connect. 


Ee c u m m i n g s

  • Note that…

  • The poem splits into two distinct phrases – “loneliness’ and “a leaf falls”

  • The falling of a leaf is a concrete act, whilst the word “loneliness” is an abstract concept.

  • Meanings:

    • A brief description of autumn

    • A single leaf falling is a metaphor for both physical and spiritual isolation

    • Loneliness is like a falling leaf

    • The feeling of loneliness is the feeling one gets when watching a falling leaf.

L(a

l(a

le

af

fa

ll

s)

one

l

iness

  • Technical Analysis:

    • First four lines alternate vowels and consonants, indicating the twisting motion of the leaf.

    • The parenthesis add to the twisting motion, showing first, decent one way, then the other.


Ee c u m m i n g s

  • -Technical Analysis:

  • In the first line we see that “L” (lowercase) is the same character on the typewriter keyboard as 1 (one).

  • “La” is the French equivalent of “a” a singular article

  • “Le” is another singularity, this time male.

  • Background Information:

  • This poem was the first poem in Cummings’ book 95 Poems and was number 1. further impressing the theme.

  • “L(a” appeared opposite a blank page, suggesting loneliness, while most of the others appeared in twos.


Ee c u m m i n g s

Possible Translation:

You’ve got to…

You don’t understand…

You don’t know…

You’ve got to get…

You understand them dirty…

You’ve got to get rid of…

You don’t know nothing…

Listen, bud, listen…

Them god damn,

little yellow bastards

We’re going

To civilize them.

yugUDuh

yugUDuh

ydoan

yunnuhstan

ydoan o

yunnuhstan dem

yguduh ged

yunnehstan dem doidee

yguduh ged riduh

udoan o nudn

LISN bud LISN

dem

gud

am

lidl yelluh bas

tuds weer goin

duhSIVILEYEzum


Ee c u m m i n g s

  • Meaning?

  • The poem is the inarticulate stumbling of a New Yorker in a bar, trying to explain America’s involvement in World War Two.

  • It can be read as a good but uneducated man trying to explain to someone why it is necessary to do something he knows is right.

  • It can be read as an arrogant fool revealing the shallowness of his own understanding.

  • It can be read as the words of a working class man caught up in the propaganda as war.

  • Many more...


Ee c u m m i n g s

in time of daffodils( who know

in time of daffodils( who know

the goal of living is to grow)

forgetting why, remember how

in time of lilacs who proclaim

the aim of waking is to dream,

remember so (forgetting seem)

in time of roses (who amaze

our now and here with paradise)

forgetting if, remember yes

in time of all sweet things beyond

whatever mind may comprehend,

remember seek (forgetting find)

and in a mystery to be

(when time from time shall set us free)

forgetting me, remember me

Brief Note:

- Note that the poem can be read as a loop.

- The forgetting and remembering lines may not be part of the poem in the way that they appear but could be used as possible beginnings for the other lines.

- For instance, one could use the last “forgetting me” to begin the poem.

- “Forgetting me in time of daffodils…”

- Or likewise, “remember me in time of daffodils..”

-Think of this cyclical literary style while answering the following questions.


Ee c u m m i n g s

in time of daffodils( who know

in time of daffodils( who know

the goal of living is to grow)

forgetting why, remember how

in time of lilacs who proclaim

the aim of waking is to dream,

remember so (forgetting seem)

in time of roses (who amaze

our now and here with paradise)

forgetting if, remember yes

in time of all sweet things beyond

whatever mind may comprehend,

remember seek (forgetting find)

and in a mystery to be

(when time from time shall set us free)

forgetting me, remember me

Task

Try to answer the following questions mentally or on a sheet of paper.

You can’t be wrong, but if you need guidance read the notes for possible answers.

1. Looking at every third line, what is Cummings saying in terms of forgetfulness and remembrance in relation to the other lines?

2. What could Cummings be suggesting in terms of seeking what we have forgotten (line 12)?

3. What could Cummings be saying about himself, through this poem?


Ee c u m m i n g s

GRASSHOPPER

r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r                                    who                a)s w(e loo)k                upnowgath                               PPEGORHRASSeringint(o-                 aThe):l                             eA                               !p:      S                                         a                                    (r              rIvInG                   .gRrEaPsPhOs)                                                            to                      rea(be)rran(com)gi(e)ngly                      ,grasshopper;

Possible Translation:

grasshopper who as we look up now gathering GRASSHOPPER into- a ‘T’ he leaps!: arriving grasshopper to rearrangingly become grasshopper


Ee c u m m i n g s

Also, if one outlines the letters of the last half of the poem, a rough image of a grasshopper forms.

An alternate view is that the scrambled look of the poem is the vision of the in-motion grasshopper, and the first and last words (which are normal) are the grasshopper at rest.

EE Cummings is not a picture poet, where he creates a perfect image of what he is writing about with the letters.

He is dealing with a ‘visual’ reading, but it’s more in the ways your eyes read it, and the visual way you have to rearrange, disconnect, or reconnect the letters and words.

This poem doesn’t need a formal analysis about themes, deeper meaning, and technical terms for how it’s written. It’s a poem that forces a reader to think and evaluate spatially. This is one of ee cummings’ attempts to break out of poetry’s forced rules of straight lines and even words.

Analysis:

At first, this poem is incomprehensible. Two stylistic points:-random punctuation-enjambment

Ee cummings’ love for punctuation is exemplified here. Also, his love for enjambment is shown.

The trick to understanding or deciphering this poem is to read it aloud (ignoring the grasshopper anagrams).

The other trick to this poem is the second last line. For this line, you must read the letters not in parentheses as one word, and then the ones in parentheses.rea(be)rran(com)gi(e)ngly = rearrangingly become.

This poem is said to resemble the motions of a grasshopper. The erratic, side to side motion that your eyes take when reading the words and text represents the quick bounds that a grasshopper takes.


Ee c u m m i n g s

whatifa muchofawhichofawind

what if a much of a which of a wind

gives the truth to summer's lie;

bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun

and yanks immortal stars awry?

Blow king to beggar and queen to seem

(blow friend to fiend: blow space to time)

-when skies are hanged and oceans drowned,

the single secret will still be man 

what if a keen of a lean wind flays

screaming hills with sleet and snow:

strangles valleys by ropes of thing

and stifles forests in white ago?

Blow hope to terror; blow seeing to blind

(blow pity to envy and soul to mind)

-whose hearts are mountains, roots are trees,

it's they shall cry hello to the spring 

what if a dawn of a doom of a dream

bites this universe in two,

peels forever out of his grave

and sprinkles nowhere with me and you?

Blow soon to never and never to twice

(blow life to isn't; blow death to was)

-all nothing's only our hugest home;

the most who die, the more we live


Ee c u m m i n g s

Meaning:

In this poem Cummings is talking about the end of the world. Not merely the destruction of the world, but the annihilation of class, stability, ability, morale, etc. It affects everyone, not just one person, and strips everyone, even the privileged, of that which makes them so.

and yanks immortal stars awry? Blow king to beggarblow seeing to blindblow pity to envy and soul to mind

Everything turns sour. Only those that are immesurably strong, or inhuman (nature) will survive

(whose hearts are mountains, roots are trees, it's they shall cry hello to the spring)

to be around to witness the rebirth.

what if a dawn of a doom of a dream bites this universe in two, peels forever out of his grave and sprinkles nowhere with me and you?

Blow soon to never and never to twice

(blow life to isn't; blow death to was)

-all nothing's only our hugest home;

the most who die, the more we live


Ee c u m m i n g s

Try this on your own!

n(o)w

n(o)wthehowdis(appeared cleverly)worldiS Slapped:with;liGhtninG!atwhich(shal)lpounceupcrackw(ill)jumpsofTHuNdeRBloSSo!M iN -visiblya mongban(gedfrag-ment ssky?wha tm)eani ngl(essNessUnrolli)ngl yS troll s(who leO v erd)oma insColLide.!highn , o ;w:theraIncomIng

o all the roofs roardrownInsound(&(we(are like)dead)Whoshout(Ghost)atOne(voiceless)Other or im)possib(ly asleep)But l!ook-sUn:starT birDs(IEAp)Openi ngt hing ; s(-sing)all are aLI(cry alL See)o(ver All)Th(e grEEn?eartH)N,ew


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