Thursday, December 2, 2010

Literary Blog Hop and e.e. cummings

Literary Blog Hop
For this week's installment of the Literary Blog Hop, which is hosted by the ladies over at The Blue Bookcase, the question is:
What is your favorite poem and why?
Though I'm more of a prose person, for me this question was a no-brainer.  e.e. cummings has been my favorite poet for approximately ever and even writing my high school junior thesis on him did nothing to lower him in my estimation (it may have helped that I got an A++… I'm not kidding).  One of his poems that I wrote about was "somewhere I have never travelled" and it has remained my favorite poem ever since.  For those of you who are not familiar, here it is:

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose
or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) 
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

One of the things that I always love about cummings's poetry is that it's always kind of like a puzzle.  Poetry in general can tend to feel like that, but with cummings unraveling the puzzle is actually fun, rather than torturous.  He does a lot of fun things with sound and imagery, all while making something that is beautiful and true.  I think it's really a gift to be able to combine these aspects and still produce something meaningful.

So why do I like this particular poem?  Why does anybody like any poem, really?  I like the cadence of it - there is a music in the phrasing that comes from the specific combination of words rather than any tricks of alliteration.  The use of the rose is unique; roses are probably the most cliche thing to write about, but cummings seems to treat them differently, perhaps because the voice of the poem is the flower, rather than the "you."  Generally we hear "your beauty is like a rose" or some such silliness, but here the voice says "I am a rose and you have power over me like the weather over a flower."  The image of a rose opening and closing in response to an outer influence is just so powerful and so apt.  How often do we say "lover, you have roses in your cheeks"?  Not often.  But how often are our moods completely influenced by those we love?  Constantly.  Those we love can be storms or fair days or a sad trickling rain to us, a concept that cummings seems to me to be portraying in this image.  We are the roses.


  1. I love e.e. Cummings, my favourite being

    Buffalo Bill's
    Who used to
    ride a watersmooth-silver
    and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
    he was a hansome man
    and what I want to know is
    how do you like your blueeyed boy
    Mister Death.
    Just love the way he plays with words & images to express his intent.

  2. Great choice!

    Being a poet, I can’t imagine my life without poetry. I live and breath it. I have loved to read a lot of poets and poetry over the years and still find something new every day. I have gone through phases liking, poets, and moving over to the the next. So many yet to read.

    Here is my Literary Blog Hop post!

  3. This poem gave me chills, especially the images of him opening and closing like a rose to the whims of his love. My favorite e.e. cummings is "i carry your heart with me." Now I have the urge to go back and read some e.e. cummings!

    Here's my post:

  4. Oh, yes, entirely beautiful. Thanks for your post.

  5. I also love ee cummings and chose one of his poems as the two I put frth as my favourites for this blog hop. I chose "I carry your heart". I completely agree that the appeal of his poetry is his elastic and expansive use of structure, it completely absorbs you and makes you want to read the poem again and again, finding your response changes each time. Great choice!

  6. That's beautiful! Don't think I've read cummings since high school...

  7. I can see what you mean about cummings's poetry being a fun puzzle to unravel, rather than a torturous one. Something about it makes you curious, wanting to know more.

  8. I don't think I've ever read this poem, though I love e.e. Thank you for sharing it.

    I adore Wallace Stevens. He has that same clever use of zigzag words and beautiful imagery and focus on simple things.

    Here's my post: