A Different Perspective: The Poetry of Edward Estlin Cummings

1. Introduction

Edward Estlin Cummings was an American poet, painter, and essayist. His unique style and approach to poems earned him both fame and criticism during his lifetime. In this essay, we will explore the different perspective of Cummings’ poetry and how it sought to define human beings and places with an aspect that surpassed their physical nature.

2. The different perspective of Cummings’ poetry

The poems reveal that Cummings saw life from a different perspective, which sought to define human beings and places with an aspect that surpassed their physical nature. For example, in the poem “in just-”, the reader is introduced to a world where “the world is puddle-wonderful”(Cummings 1) and children can fly. This poem provides a childlike perspective of the world, which is further enhanced by the use of words such as “mud-luscious”(Cummings 2). By using such descriptors, Cummings allows the reader to see the world through the eyes of a child where everything is new and exciting. This childlike perspective is something that Cummings sought to bring out in his poetry as he believed that it allowed for a greater appreciation of life.

Furthermore, Cummings also explored the idea of love in many of his poems. In the poem “may i feel said he”, Cummings uses the dialogue between two lovers to explore the idea of what it means to truly love someone. The poem starts with the man asking the woman if he may feel her breasts, to which she responds “yes & my heart places hands on yours”(Cummings 3-4). This exchange reveals the deep connection that exists between the two lovers, which goes beyond just the physical. The woman in the poem is able to understand what the man is feeling just by touching him, which highlights the deep emotional connection between them. This idea of love is further explored in the poem “i carry your heart with me(i carry it in”, where Cummings uses imagery to describe the depth of love between two people. He compares love to “a bee coming out of” (Cummings 5) a flower and states that it is something that can never be destroyed. This deep exploration of love highlights Cummings’ belief that it is one of the most powerful forces in the world.

3. Cummings’ early life and education

Cummings was born on October 14th, 1894, in Cambridge Massachusetts. He was raised in a Unitarian household and attended Cambridge Latin School before enrolling at Harvard University in 1913. During his time at Harvard, he became friends with fellow student Ezra Pound who would go on to become a well-known poet himself. After graduating from Harvard in 1915, Cummings travelled to Europe where he studied art in Paris before enlisting in the ambulance corps during World War I.

4. His literary influences

Cummings’ early exposure to poetry came from his mother who would read works by Longfellow and Tennyson to him as a child. However, it was not until he started attending Harvard University that he began to develop his own style of writing. During his time at Harvard, he was influenced by modernist writers such as Ezra Pound and T.S Eliot. These writers encouraged him to experiment with form and content in his poetry, which resulted in the development of his signature style.

5. The war years

Cummings’ time in the army during World War I had a profound effect on his poetry. He was deeply affected by the horrors of war and the suffering that he witnessed firsthand. These experiences are reflected in poems such as “my sweet old etcetera”, where he talks about the “great bigQuestionmarkin(the)sky”(Cummings 6). The poem speaks to the sense of loss and confusion that Cummings felt in the aftermath of the war. He also explores the idea of death in many of his poems, such as “i died for beauty” and “she being brand”. In both of these poems, Cummings reflects on the futility of war and how it takes away the lives of those who are caught in the crossfire.

6. Later life and work

After returning from Europe, Cummings settled in New York City where he continued to write poetry and paint. He married his first wife, Elaine Orr, in 1924 and they had one child together. The marriage ended in divorce in 1932. Cummings then married his second wife, Marion Morehouse, in 1935. The couple had two children together before divorcing in 1945. Cummings married again in 1958, this time to Anne Minnerly Marshall. The couple remained together until his death in 1962.

Cummings continued to write poetry until his death in 1962. His later works include plays and essays, but he is best known for his poems. Some of his most famous poems include “in just-”, “may i feel said he”, and “i carry your heart with me(i carry it in)”. These poems reflect Cummings’ different perspective on life and how it sought to define human beings and places with an aspect that surpassed their physical nature.

7. Conclusion

In conclusion, Edward Estlin Cummings was an American poet, painter, and essayist whose unique style and approach to poems earned him both fame and criticism during his lifetime. His poems reveal that he saw life from a different perspective, which sought to define human beings and places with an aspect that surpassed their physical nature. This different perspective is something that Cummings sought to bring out in his poetry as he believed that it allowed for a greater appreciation of life.

FAQ

Cummings was inspired to write poetry by his experiences as a soldier in World War I.

He developed his unique style of writing by experimenting with different ways of arranging words and punctuation on the page.

His poetry typically explores themes of love, nature, and death.