Wednesday, October 14, 2009

e.e. cummings b. OCTOBER 14 1894

ok, i admit it. cummings was the first poet i truly admired & imitated but it was because imitating him was pretty easy to pull off. that doesn't mean anything i ever wrote in the cummings mode was worth piss. it was just easy to imitate the peculiarities of cummings' style. i most certainly did not catch any of his dadaist connections in high school. i barely got dada at new college & that was pretty much on my own. interestingly, as odd as his syntax was(for the times), he wrote in pretty traditional forms(ie, the sonnet). w/o cummings, we wouldn't have john berryman's homage to mistress bradstreet or his dream songs. w/o cummings, a lot of the language poets wouldn't have found solace in one peculiar strand of american literary history(even tho they usually cite others as the patresfamilias of their genealogies). arguments over the various strands of american modernism have been going on in the academic world for over 60 years. that's not what i'm getting at here. cummings got lost in the debate years back, probably because of his popularity, but he wrote excellent stuff. spend some time w/him & i think you'll see it too.
the second poem here was used by woody allen in hannah and her sisters to great affect.

Sonnets--Unrealities. III.

it is at moments after i have dreamed
of the rare entertainment of your eyes,
when (being fool to fancy) i have deemed

with your peculiar mouth my heart made wise;
at moments when the glassy darkness holds

the genuine apparition of your smile
(it was through tears always) and silence moulds
such strangeness as was mine a little while;

moments when my once more illustrious arms
are filled with fascination, when my breast
wears the intolerant brightness of your charms:

one pierced moment whiter than the rest

--turning from the tremendous lie of sleep
i watch the roses of the day grow deep.

e.e. cummings

[somewhere i have never travelled]

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

e.e. cummings

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