Friday, January 25, 2013

Cummings, the Romantic

Photograph by László Szalai 

From the wonderful site, moving poems, a little videopoem that captures E. E. Cummings as the true romantic he was. One might think the pace a bit languid, but there is the point, or at least a number of them, which may be re-examined a little more closely as they pirouette in slow motion across the screen of the soul.

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond 

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

Rain by Karol Hiller


morning's first thing--
on praying hands
the spring rain
translated by David G. Lanoue


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Ed Baker said...


the entire-ty of his work in this piece:
and in these lines:

"(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)"

lucky is the man the poet the artist who
knows his muse AND knows himself

and travels down his own path....

lucky, also, to have embraced
the Orient and the Occident ...

I wonder if E.E. Cummings knew
D.T. Suzuki's work ?

nice film, too.... cute girl.

Lyle Daggett said...

E. E. Cummings (or e. e. cummings) was the first poet whose work I read at length and in depth. I was about 16 at the time, and had been writing poems for a couple of years or so. The poem here was one of the first poems of his I read, and is still one of my favorites of his.

Over time, the spell his poems cast on me has faded some, though there are still lines and short passages that stay bright and vivid with me.

"nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands"

"the moon rattles like a fragment of angry candy"

"i'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance"

I don't know one way or another whether or not he ever read Suzuki -- and I don't know offhand what years exactly Suzuki was alive. The poem here, at any rate, was in one of Cummings' books -- titled "W [ViVa]" -- that was originally published in 1931.

I remember this poem also from Woody Allen's film "Hannah and Her Sisters -- the poem Michael Caine's character shows to Barbara Hershey's character after he becomes convinced that he's in love with her.

For what it's worth, and for whatever it matters, in most of the standard editions of Cummings' poems, most of his poems don't have titles, and they don't use the first lines of the poems as stand-ins for titles.

Thanks for posting this.

Charles Gramlich said...

Cool. Very neat little vid.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Well, Ed, thank you, so much in your observation that is to the point ... ran across this article by Michael Dylan Welch on Cummings haiku sensibilities to follow on your thoughts ...

To, as you say, extend the convert-sensation ...


Issa's Untidy Hut said...


For me, too, Cummings was one of the first poets that I connected to. I think he immediately makes you realize why poetry is poetry and not just fancy prose, especially when encountered early.

I'd totally forgotten about the Hannah reference. The article about his haiku sensibilities is interesting (in my comment, above).


Ed Baker said...

of course E.E "knew" Suzuki's work thanks to ( in large part ) Christmas Humphries' work with Suzuki
and D.T. coming to lecture all around the States in late 30's ... and on..

our American Brand of Zen was fathered by Mr. Suzuki
and not by Ginsberg and Snyder and Kerouac ....

just ask Michael Dylan or Kay Larson (whose book I happen to just-now be

staringatangels said...

Thank you for pointing us to this beautiful poem and video. My experience of reading and watching was more emotional and intense than usual. Something about the imagery bypassed my intellectual sensibilities (which are usually more engaged when reading poetry). Perhaps this had to do with the way the poem embraces the fragility that is often part of our strongest connections with people we love.