Oct. 14, 2010

I carry your heart with me

by E. E. Cummings

Since feeling is first

by E. E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me
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 apart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

since feeling is first
since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

"i carry your heart with me" by E.E. Cummings, from Complete Poems 1904-62. © Liveright Publishing, 1994. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

"since feeling is first" by E.E. Cummings, from 100 Selected Poems. © Grove Weidenfeld, 1994. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of the man who wrote, "Since feeling is first / who pays any attention / to the syntax of things / will never wholly kiss you." That's E.E. Cummings, (books by this author) born Edward Estlin Cummings in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1894), who penned nearly 3,000 poems, a couple of autobiographical novels, and several essays and plays.

He majored in classics at Harvard, gave a controversial graduation speech on modern art, worked for a mail-order bookseller, got bored, and volunteered along with his college writer friend John Dos Passos for an ambulance corps serving in France during World War I. It was in 1917, and partly to entertain himself and see what the censors would do, he wrote provocative letters espousing anti-war views and professing not to hate those enemy Germans. The French censors intercepted the letters and put him in a military detention camp on suspicion of espionage.
He got out of jail because his dad was well-connected, and came home a few months later, just in time for Christmas that year. He was promptly drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to infantry training camp. About five years later, in 1922, he published The Enormous Room, an autobiographical novel in which he made fun of the prison guards and sympathized with his fellow inmates at the camp. One biographer noted: "Cummings' account of his imprisonment was oddly cheerful in tone and freewheeling in style. He depicted his internment camp stay as a period of inner growth." He was only 28 years old when the book was published, and the book made him famous.

He published a few volumes of poetry and took a job as a traveling correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine. In the afternoons he painted and in the evenings he wrote, a routine he kept up for the rest of his life.

From the archives:

It's the birthday of the short-story writer Katherine Mansfield, (books by this author) born in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1888. She had affairs with men and women, she traveled deep into the countryside and lived with the indigenous people of New Zealand, and she published stories under a variety of pseudonyms, and some of those stories were scandalous. She is best known as the author of The Garden Party (1922). Mansfield wrote a letter to an editor asking for money, and she said, "I have a rapacious appetite for everything and principles as light as my purse."

It's the birthday of the poet and essayist Katha Pollitt, (books by this author) born in New York City in 1949, author of The Antarctic Traveler (1982), Subject to Debate (2001), and Learning to Drive: And Other Life Stories (2007). She grew up in a family of activists. When she went to Harvard and helped take over the ROTC building to protest the Vietnam War, her parents sent her flowers.

It's the birthday of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, born in London in 1644. He was the son of an admiral, and even after he became a Quaker, he continued to wear splendid clothes and to carry his sword to Friends meetings.

It's the birthday of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, born in Denison, Texas, in 1890. His mother was a pacifist, and when he decided to go to West Point for college, she broke down in tears. He loved being in the military and training troops. As a general, he liked to smoke cigarettes and make small talk with soldiers, and he slept in the trenches with the privates. When he traveled by jeep near enemy lines, he preferred to drive the jeep himself.

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




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