Edward Estlin Cummings was born at Cambridge, Massachusetts on this day in 1894. Growing up in a literate and liberal home, he was writing poetry by age ten. He attended Cambridge Latin High School and received both BA and MA from Harvard. His poetry appeared in publications of both schools. He volunteered as an ambulance driver in World War I, but orders were misplaced and he spent several weeks enjoying Paris before being put to work. His pacifist convictions led to his arrest on charges of espionage, and he spent the rest of his tour in a detention camp. He is mostly known for his poetry, specifically that he took an unusual approach to capitalization, punctuation, and spacing of the text on the page, although he never took the capital letters out of his name as many have used it. He was also a novelist, essayist, playwright, and painter.
“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”
“I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing than to teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.”
“A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long.”
“for whatever we lose (like a you or a me) it's always ourselves we find in the sea”
“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”
“The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.”
All from E. E. Cummings, 1894 – 1962