Monday, January 16, 2012

e.e. cummings

e.e. cummings: The lowercase signer 

     E.e. cummings was born into a Unitarian family on October 14, 1894. He was raised in a religious family and used prayers as an inspiration. Cummings wanted to be a poet ever since he was a child. He was married three times and had one daughter. His influences were Amy Lowell and Gertrude Stein. He went to Harvard where he started to have interest in modern poetry. He wrote eighteen books and received eleven awards during his lifetime. Cummings wrote about 2,900 poems, two autobiographical novels, four plays, several essays, and a few paintings and drawings. 

     In 1917, cummings enlisted in the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps with his friend, John Dos Passos. There was an administrative mix-up where cummings wasn't assigned an ambulance for another five weeks. During the five weeks he stayed in Paris where he fell in love with the city. While serving, he and his friend continually wrote letters home expressing their feelings of anti-war. Five months later he and William Slater Brown were arrested by the French military under suspicion of espionage and undesirable activities. They were held for three and a half months in a military detention camp. 

     Cummings returned to Paris in 1921, where he stayed for another two years before returning to New York. Throughout the 1920's and 1930's he returned to Paris numerous times and explored Europe. In 1926, his father died from a car accident. This had a major impact on his life and his writing. In Paris he was exposed to Dada and surrealism. This changed his poetry by relying on symbolism and allegory versus metaphors and similes , which he used to use. Cummings died on September 3, 1962 at the age of 67 from a stroke. 


1. What brought your person to France? Was there a particular reason he or she left America to pursue their work in France? 
He first went to France during WWI. He was supposed to be a part of the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps, but there was a mix-up and wasn't assigned an ambulance until five weeks later. During this time he got to spend five weeks in Paris. He loved the city, and decided that he would visit frequently. These visits changed the way he wrote poetry by using symbolism and allegory instead of comparisons. 

2. Why France? What did your person find appealing or inspiring about France? How did this show up in their work? 
Cummings was exposed to Dada, a cultural movement that focused on anti-war politics. Also, he enjoyed studying the art that he found in France. His inspirations showed in his work by changing the way he wrote. He wrote using symbolism and tried to paint a picture using words. He also wrote with allegory, which means that the poem has a hidden meaning, instead of using comparisons. 

^"Seven Poems" by e.e. cummings"

3. What do you think of your person's work? Does it appeal to you? Why or why not? 
His work is great, but it's not my favorite. A contributing factor to that is that I'm not a big fan of poetry. If I had to read poetry I would read William Butler Yeats, Emily Dickinson, or Robert Frost. Cummings' early work was more love themed, which are beautiful, but don't appeal to me that much. I like cummings' anti-war poems more than the other genres that he wrote. 

4. Based on what you know about the person and the samples you've found, would you be interested in more of their work? Why or why not? 
I would be interested in reading a couple more of his poems. His poems are entertaining and have hidden meanings, which make them interesting to read. I don't enjoy reading poetry all that much, though. If I had to read poetry I would probably read poems by other poets. All in all I would read some of his poems, but probably in the anti-war genre. 




By Jordanna Segal

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