e. e. cummings: The Growth of a Writer

By Norman Friedman | Go to book overview

mode in which he wrote was natural to him, not an assumed or eccentric manner. How marvelously that bird makes his three little hops. This is kinetic, as cummings' writing always was, with the music and visualization wonderfully matched. It is moving to see how the gift operated so naturally in the child who was to become a poet.

Earlier, I spoke of cummings as not seeming aged. He seemed joyously youthful, despite the baldness, when delivering the nonlectures. In the present book, Mr. Friedman points out that cummings' 95 Poems ( Harcourt, Brace, 1958) seemed remarkably vigorous for a man of sixty-four. Now, just as I am about to return to the compositor the proofsheets of the present volume, a last book of cummings' verse has come in, soon to be published by Harcourt, Brace and World: 73 poems, I hope they aren't the last seventy-three, for they show how brilliantly cummings wrote in his later years. A few of the poems seem a little tricksy, but there are some lyrics which will stand among cummings' best. The eight-line satire beginning "annie died the other day" is cummings at his most mischievous; and the seventy-third and final, poem (beginning "all worlds have halfsight,seeing either with") makes a joyous epitaph for e. e. cummings, himself a "citizen of ecstasies" who in these fourteen lines looks on life and on death and does so with joy.

All the rest of cummings' poems--in the Collected edition and 95 Poems--are discussed with expertness, and with critical joy, by Mr. Friedman, who treats all cummings' books in this full and notable study. It deals not only with the poet's lyric and comic aspects, but very importantly examines the "basic mystical insight which is the real foundation of his work." Twentieth-century readers owe e. e. cummings a great debt for being the grand and joyful poet that he was; they also owe a debt to Mr. Friedman for interpreting all his writings so valuably.

HARRY T. MOORE Southern Illinois University October 26, 1963

-viii-

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e. e. cummings: The Growth of a Writer
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xi
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • 2 - The Enormous Room (1922) 22
  • 3 - Tulips and Chimneys (1922), & (1925), Is 5 (1926) 36
  • 4 - Him (1927) 51
  • 5 - Viva (1931), No Thanks (1935), New Poems (1938) 75
  • 6 - Anthropos (1930), No Title (1930), Tom (1935) 93
  • 7 - Eimi (1933) 109
  • 8 - 50 Poems (1940), 1 ? 1 (1944) 125
  • 9 - Santa Claus (1946) 140
  • 10 - Xaipe (1950), 95 Poems (1958) 152
  • 11 - I: Six Nonlectures (1953) 174
  • Bibliographical Note 187
  • Index 189
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