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Visual Effects Created By E.E. Cummings In His Poetry

1131 words - 5 pages

Visual Effects Created By E.E. Cummings In His Poetry

Edward Estlin Cummings, commonly referred to as E. E. Cummings, was born on October 14, 1894 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was a source of vast knowledge and was responsible for many creative works other than his poetry, such as novels, plays, and paintings. He published his first book of poetry Tulips and Chimneys in 1923. Many of his poems are known for the visual effects they create through his unusual placement of words on the page, as well as, his lack of punctuation and capitalization. The manner in which Cummings arranges the words of his poems creates an image in the reader's mind of the topic he is discussing, such as a season or climbing stairs. His visual style also brings emotions, such as loneliness or cheerfulness, to the reader's mind. Due to this creativity, Cummings won many awards, such as the National Book Award and the Bollingen Prize in poetry (Marks 17).

In his poem "l(a", the words are arranged in such a way that they are falling down the page. He only puts several letters of each word on a line and then continues to spell the word down the page. The main focus of the poem is about loneliness and the words almost appear to be "lonely." He uses parentheses around the phrase "a leaf falls," which appears in the middle of the poem. The remaining letters in the poem spell "loneliness." When these are placed together in the same poem, it creates an effect that there is a leaf falling from a tree to the ground where it will be lonely because it will be separated from the tree. Cummings emphasizes the image of being alone or aloof by using two versions of the word one. On the first line, he uses the letter "l," which also looks like the number "1." On another line he uses the word "one." Besides the parentheses, there is no other punctuation or capitalization used in the poem and this contributes to the effect of the leaf not having any attachment or connection and falling off the tree.

The reader also obtains a visual effect when reading Cummings' "in Just-." In this poem, the main topic is springtime and the various aspects of that season. Cummings creates the words "mud-luscious" and "puddle-wonderful" to provide the reader with images of spring from a child's perspective. Adults would view mud and puddles as a negative aspect of spring, resulting from the melting of snow and the showers that usually occur at that time of the year. However, by creating these words, Cummings brings the reader back to their own childhood when mud and puddles were wonderful aspects of spring.

In this same poem, Cumming also uses spacing to create an image in the reader's mind. For example, he writes:

lame balloonman
whistles far and wee (Cummings 21-22.)
The fact that the word "far" is separated from the other words in the line creates an image that the whistling is in the distance. Additionally, he joins the names "eddieandbill" and...

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