E.E. Cummings' on the death of romance in "She being Brand/-new"
Satire is most effective when its meaning can be picked up and its point understood. Some satiric poetry, however, attempts to be rhetorical yet at the same time eludes the comprehension of various readers. "She being Brand / -new" is one of those poems whose appearance can be quite deceptive to its audience upon first glance. E.E. Cummings, the author of this poem, has received extensive criticism for his controversial literature, and this said poem best exemplifies the controversial nature of this great American poet. It is an explicitly avant-garde work of literature that narrates his first ever drive on a brand new car. Though containing a seemingly innocent concept, the controversy results from Cummings' incredibly risqué approach, as he metaphorically compares the car driving experience to a female's losing of her virginity. To the litigious soul, this poem calls for an immediate call of arms, slandering the author with accusations of sexism and taste-less vulgarity. Yet most educated readers will approach this poem as a colorful way of depicting the act of sexual union, by comparing it to breaking in a new car. This is quite a passive interpretation, however, due to Cummings' reputation as an avid satirist, I believe there is an even deeper level of satire that can be missed if the poem is viewed as simply poetic pornography.
Born in 1894, Cummings experienced the change of a new century, a point in time when America was getting itself into World Power status. Raised in a liberal yet religious family, his background is that of a traditional American "old-fashioned" family. Cummings' early life witnessed the invention of the automobile, airplane, telephone, and various other world changing innovations. American society went through a cataclysmic paradigm shift as these new inventions were commercially introduced to Americans. One of these changes was the sexual "liberation" of...
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