Cummings, Edward Estlin. (1894 - 1962).
P o e t r y
C o n t e n t :
- scorned the mediocre values of the ‘most-people’ against the bohemian tastes of the artist: celebrated an individual against the mass society
- scorned the conventional verbal traditions, political pieties, and conventional standards of behaviour: delighted in the bohemian culture
- preoccupied with the themes of childlike egotism, irrepressible impudence, and untroubled sexual pleasure
- his love poems often sexually explicit x but: his belief of all desires being simple ones often led him into a conventional sentimentalising of the erotic life
- retained his eagerness to admit and express in a tender lyricism the traditional emotions of love, sadness, etc.
F o r m :
(a) Early Poetry:
< influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and Metaphysical writers: his intricate stanza patterns
(b) Mature Poetry:
< G. Apollinaire and S. Mallarmé: his clever formal innovation
< R. W. Emerson, H. D. Thoreau, and W. Whitman: his flexible immediacy of style
- paid attention to the visual form of the poem: experimented with capitalisation x lack of it, with punctuation, line breaks, hyphenation, and verse shapes
- used common speech and elements of popular culture
- perceived the life as being always in process: wrote untitled poems lacking beginnings/endings, and consisting of fragmentary lines
- aspired less to reshape poetry than T. S. Eliot, E. Pound, W. Stevens, or W. C. Williams
- wrote poetry simpler in thought and technique than the major modernists: felt a greater continuity with the American past
=> a capacity for language play, humour, and vivid satire of America
Tulips and Chimneys (1923)
P r o s e
The Enormous Room (1922):
- his own experience as a prisoner of his own side in a French prison camp during the WW I
- an ironic and absurd celebration of the ordinary soldier x an attack on the bureaucratic insensitivity
- an account of his travels in Russia after the rise of Stalin
- irrepressibly energetic in style, and rich in rapidly noted sensory detail
(Photo: Walter Albertin. 1953. Source: Wikimedia Commons).
AuthorEdward Estlin Cummings. Aka e. e. cummings. (1894 - 1962). American.
WorkPoet. Prose writer. Author of Tulips and Chimneys (1923).
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"life's not a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis"
From the collection is 5 (1926).