Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Birthday e. e. cummings

i like my body

by E. E. Cummings

i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite a new thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which I will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh...And eyes big love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill
of under me you quite so new

"i like my body" by e.e. cummings from Complete Poems 1904-1962. © Liveright Publishing, 1991.

It's the birthday of E.E. Cummings, (books by this author) born Edward Estlin Cummings in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1894), who wrote nearly 3,000 poems, a couple of autobiographical novels, and several essays and plays.

He majored in classics at Harvard, gave a controversial graduation speech on modern art, worked for a mail-order bookseller, got bored, and volunteered along with his college writer friend John Dos Passos for an ambulance corps serving in France during World War I. It was 1917, and partly to entertain themselves and gauge the censors' reaction, he and co-worker William Slater Brown wrote provocative letters espousing anti-war views and professing not to hate those enemy Germans. The French censors intercepted the letters, and Cummings and Brown were imprisoned at a military detention camp on suspicion of espionage for more than three months. His experiences as a prisoner in France formed the basis for his novel The Enormous Room (1922).

The 1920s proved to be a productive period for Cummings. He published the poetry collections Tulips and Chimneys in 1923 and XLI Poems in 1925. In 1926, he got a job as a traveling correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine. In the afternoons, he painted — he was an accomplished artist who for 30 years displayed his paintings and drawings in New York City shows — and in the evenings he wrote. It was a schedule that he would keep up for the rest of his life. But that same year, his beloved parents got in a horrific car accident. His father died and his mother was badly injured. Later Cummings described it: "A locomotive cut the car in half, killing my father instantly. When two brakemen jumped from the halted train, they saw a woman standing — dazed but erect — beside a mangled machine; with blood spouting (as the older said to me) out of her head." He wrote:
my father moved through dooms of love
through sames of am through haves of give,
singing each morning out of each night
my father moved through depths of height

. . . .

In his verse, Cummings tended to substitute verbs for nouns, he used patently eccentric punctuation, and he disregarded norms of capitalization. But despite unconventional style, he wrote about traditional themes, stuff like love and nature.

E.E. Cummings wrote, "Since feeling is first / who pays any attention / to the syntax of things / will never wholly kiss you."

Text lifted from The Writer's Almanac
Photo lifted from here

1 comment:

Bryan L. Smith said...

one of the biggest reasons I don't capitalize much when I type.