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The Poetry Of E. E. Cummings

1612 words - 6 pages

The Poetry of E. E. Cummings

Is the of style e. e. cummings' poetry its true genius, or the very reason the works should be called drivel? Alfred Kazin says that the poet's style is "arrogant" and "slap stick" and that cummings is "the duality of the traditionalist and the clown"(155). Others, such as Richard P. Blackmur, say his technique is an insult to the writing profession. He says that cummings' poetry would only appeal to those with a "childish spirit"(140). It was Mark Van Doren, though, who probably said the truth about cummings. "He has a richly sensuous mind; his verse is distinguished by fluidity and weight; he is equipped to range lustily and long among the major passions"(140) Through examples of his work, "from spiralling ecstatically this," Buffalo Bill's," "next to of course god america I," and "whippoorwill this," it can be show that cummings is a deliberate, inventive, and precise poet who uses his own, unique style.
Style throughout cummings work is usually difficult to piece together and the works' meanings are even harder to decipher, but they all conjure the reader to think. Cummings uses an assortment of tools for his style. In "from spiralling ecstatically this" cummings uses imaginative new words and line breaks. Cummings creates the word "unmiracle" in line five. This word implies destruction of what has just taken place, the birth of a baby. "Perhapsless" is another new word, also of pessimistic connotations. Perhaps is a hopeful word, meaning there is a chance, "perhapsless" implies that failure is inevitable and that trying is futile. The line breaks of this poem were meant to emphasize the single lines of the poem. "[F]rom spiralling ecstatically this" suggests that one is going throughout life with no sense of direction or meaning. "[P]erhapsless mystery of paradise" implies that the afterlife is non existent. "[W]hose only secret all creation sings" is that the mother's "[l]ove provides the universal rhythm . . . despite man's attempt to change or stop the rhythm, it marks the limits on his destructive power" (Powers 237) and who knows what lies beyond.
In "Buffalo Bill's" cummings' style not only includes line breaks, but run on and joined words as well. His line breaks and technique of separating words is a precise and deliberate method which causes the reader to think. Separating "defunct" by itself could also mean death (Dilworth 176). Using the word Jesus in a place by itself with a long space, indicating a pause, before and after it, indicate that it is not being used to describe Jesus Christ, but rather as an expression of amazement and awe, common in everyday speech. Cummings, throughout this poem, uses space in order to indicate pauses, much as a comma would do. In this poem he also uses run on and joined words to emphasize description of Buffalo Bill. In line four of the poem cummings wrote "watersmooth-silver" to describe the stallion in line five. The combination of the words are referring to...

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