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E.E. Cummings

By | March 2008
Page 1 of 2
Cummings' play, Him, mentioned earlier, played off-off-Broadway in 1928. Consisting of two main characters, Him, and his wife, Me, the play explored relationships. The play "gives Me (and you) a thorough self-analysis. But she does not understand, because she feels. The woman Me is at once undefinable, being beautiful and tender; and more commonplace, being the victim of emotions and experiences she cannot share" (Norman, p. 218). This theme ties in closely with Cummings' expressionist beliefs. Cummings was also a gifted sketch artist and painter, although his spatial talents are rarely defined. He painted regularly--everyday in his later years. His work was exhibited widely, and he even presented some shows of solely his work. It is interesting that a man so gifted with painting words can also portray his ideas in art. He once described himself as "an author of pictures, a draughtsman of words" (Norman, p. 4).

It is often difficult to classify Cummings' style because it so defiantly broke the defined rules. He is "an individualist, a noncomformist, one who would go his own way no matter what" (Friedman, 1972, p. 1). He has been described as antirational, anticollectivist, antipolitical, antiintellectual, expressionist. He wrote widely about love and nature, mixed in with satirical observations. His work is sometimes un interpretable, because he did not want interpretation. His writing is "poetry for the eye as well as for the ear" (Haines, 1951, p. 24). For Cummings, the restrictive boundaries of grammar and form were merely obstacles with which he dispensed early. Barbara Watson (1956) stated:

"Growth and risk emerge as the cardinal principles of Cummings' anarchistic freedom. The safety of perfection, of absolutes, of scientific precision, may be necessary, but can never be loved....Cummings' own poetry is true to this theory. It sets an example of risk-taking under ideal conditions. He has the strength to take his chances, takes them willingly and...

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