Friday

Oct. 2, 2009

I carry your heart with me

by E. E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                        i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apartv
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

"'i carry your heart with me (i carry it in'" by e.e. cummings, from Complete Poems 1904-62. © Liveright Publishing, 1994. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of children's book author and poet Shel Silverstein, (books by this author) born in Chicago (1930), who wrote the verse:
If you had a giraffe
and he stretched another half …
you would have a giraffe and a half.

Silverstein wrote many children's books, including best-sellers A Light in the Attic (1981) and Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974).

It's the birthday of Graham Greene, (books by this author) born in Hertfordshire, England (1904), the author of such novels as The Power and the Glory (1940), The Heart of the Matter (1948), The End of the Affair (1951), The Quiet American (1955), and Our Man in Havana (1958).

He had bipolar disorder, and he once told his wife, Vivien, that it gave him "a character profoundly antagonistic to ordinary domestic life" and that "unfortunately, the disease is also one's material." When he was 16, he had a nervous breakdown and was treated by psychoanalyst — a student of Freud — for six months; the teenage Greene fell in love with his therapist's wife. He joined the Communist Party in 1925, and the next year he converted to Catholicism, saying, "I had to find a religion … to measure my evil against." Though his writing was largely influenced by Catholic themes, he hated being labeled a "Catholic novelist." He was outspokenly critical of American imperialism, and he praised Fidel Castro. He was known to write nasty reviews and parodies of other writers.

But he also made fun of himself. Once, a magazine held a contest encouraging readers to submit their best parodies of Graham Greene's writing style. Greene entered the contest himself under a pseudonym. He once said, “In human relationships, kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.”

It's the birthday of Wallace Stevens, (books by this author) born in Reading, Pennsylvania (1879). He wanted to be a journalist, but after a couple years of writing for a New York paper, he decided that he would fulfill his father's desires and go to law school. After graduating, he took a job with the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, where he was in charge of inspecting surety claims. He would remain at the job for the rest of his life.

Each day, he walked the two miles between his office and upper-middle class home, where he lived with his wife and daughter, and during these walks to and from work, he composed poetry. He said, "It gives a man character as a poet to have this daily contact with a job." He would only let people walk with him if they didn't talk. He never ate lunch, except for once a week "to break up the monotony" — and on that day, he would always go to a place near his Hartford, Connecticut, office.

He claimed that "poetry and surety claims aren't as unlikely a combination as they may seem. There's nothing perfunctory about them for each case is different."

His first collection of poems, Harmonium, was published when he was 43 years old. Though the volume received only lukewarm praise at first, it later became considered a modernist classic. In 1955, just months before he died, he received both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for his volume Collected Poems.

In his book Opus Posthumous, Stevens writes, "After one has abandoned a belief in god, poetry is that essence which takes its place as life's redemption." And he wrote, "The whole race is a poet that writes down / The eccentric propositions of its fate."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









«

»

  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook


The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Sharon Olds at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »