eecummings Poetry Explication
Thesis • In eecummings poem “Old Age Sticks,” he utilizes irregular formatting and a sarcastic tone to inform his young readers that despite their unlikeliness to listen to the grouchings of older people, they too are growing old and will soon take their place in old age.
History • Born near the turn of the century. A product of the Victorian Era – but grew into the Modernist movement. • Faced WWI, WWII, and the Korean Conflict. • Admired ex-patriots like Stein and Fitzgerald for speaking against convention. • His writing was a direct correlation to the modernist art movement of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. • Poets.org
Author Bio • Born in Cambridge, Masachusettes, October 14, 1894 • Well educated – studied Latin, Greek and received his BA in 1915 and his MA in 1916 from Harvard. • His studies introduced him to the Avant-Garde movement – and writers such as Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound. • Avant Garde– path-breakers, people in the fore-font of art, fashion, literature, social thought and product development. • He left the U.S. to go to France and volunteer as an ambulance driver in WWI. • He held strong anti-war convictions. • He met many writers and artists, including Pablo Picasso who he admired very much! • He died on September 3, 1962 – buried in Boston
Style • He experimented radically with form, punctuation, spelling and syntax. • He abandoned traditional techniques. • Sought to create highly idiosyncratic ways to express poetry. • He playfully approached subjects like war and sex.
Old Age Sticks scolds Forbidden StopMustn't Don't&)youth goesright ongrowing old old age sticksup KeepOffsigns)&youth yanks themdown(oldagecries NoTres)&(pas)youth laughs(singold age
Explication scolds Forbidden StopMustn't Don't&)youth goesright ongrowing old old age sticksup KeepOffsigns)&youth yanks themdown(oldagecries NoTres)&(pas)youth laughs(singold age
Audience and Meaning • Simple – The youth of this generation (cummings’ – and ours) don’t listen to the generations that precede them. • It is a commentary on the independence of youth and the way he encourages youth to keep “doing what they do” despite the fact that they, too, are growing old. • The audience is specifically youth. We can deduce this because of the irregular grammatical patterns employed and the subject target. In this time period, the avant-garde movement was discouraged and criticized by older generations coming out of the proper Victorian Era. They more than likely would have been annoyed by this poem.