Remembering E. E. Cummings, or e e cummings, whichever you prefer

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

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5 Responses to Remembering E. E. Cummings, or e e cummings, whichever you prefer

  1. jimr says:

    According to whomever wrote the Wikipedia article, he does indeed use periods between his initials he just didn’t capitalize the e’s.  I felt however that since it was the title of my blog article, that I should, silly me…/E._E._Cummings

    And…no, I did not rely completely on the Wikipedia Article:

    However, I am willing to concede that you know more about the author/poet than I do, and therefore I have changed the title of my blog.


  2. jeanine says:

    The line is “The Fog creeps in on little cat feet.” And it isn’t from a cummings poem; it is from Carl Sandburg’s poem The Fog. Also, a huge BTW, cummings did not capitalize any part of his name, nor did he use periods between his initials.

  3. jimr says:

    Thanks for the comment Libby; I am not quite sure of the work you cited; however, I know Jeanine will probably know of it, and where to find it. I did a cusory search on Google/Bing, and did not find a work by E. E. Cummings titled “Chicago”

  4. Libby says:

    When I studied E.E. Cummings’ poetry in high school, it was way beyond me. I think one needs to be quite mature to grasp it. One line I remember that I liked was from a poem he wrote that I believe came from a work entitled “Chicago”. It was something like, “The dawn creeps in on cats feet…”. Anyone know of it?

  5. TVNews says:

    At least he volunteered to do something for the war effort.