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Book #10: e. e. cummings: a selection of poems (with an introduction by Horace Gregory)

Title: e.e. cummings: a selection of poems (with an introduction by Horace Gregory)
Author: I think the title says it all
Genre: poetry

I was inspired to look into e.e. cummings’ work after a couple of posts at exceptindreams intrigued me. When I saw this book at one of my library’s sales, I picked it up out of curiosity.

Overall, I thought the selection was okay. The poems that stood out to me were his war/soldier-themed ones. I liked those, some of his love poems, and “I am just a small church(no great cathedral)” (reprinted below; it’s probably one of my favourites).


i am a little church(no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
- I do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower,
my prayers are the prayers of earth’s own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying)children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope,and I wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
- i do not worry if longer nights grow longest,
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring,I lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)



look at this)
a 75 done
this nobody would
have believed
would they no
kidding this was my particular

pal
funny aint
it we was
buddies
i used to

know
him lift the
poor cuss
tenderly this side up handle

with care
fragile
and send him home

to his old mother in
a nice new pine box

(collect



it may not always be so; and i say
that if your lips, which i have loved, should touch
another's, and your dear strong fingers clutch
his heart, as mine in time not far away;
if on another's face your sweet hair lay
in such a silence as i know, or such
great writhing words as, uttering overmuch,
stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;

if this should be, i say if this should be --
you of my heart, send me a little word;
that i may go unto him, and take his hands,
saying, Accept all happiness from me.
Then shall i turn my face, and hear one bird
sing terribly afar in the lost lands.



i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh ... And eyes big love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill

of under me you so quite new



it really must
be nice, never to

have no imagination)or never
never to wonder about guys you used to (and them
slim hot queens with dam next to nothing

on)tangoing
(while a feller tries
to hold down fifty bucks per
job with one foot and rock a

cradle with the other) it Must be
nice never to have no doubts about why you
put the ring
on (and watching her
face grow old and tired to which

you’re married and hands get red washing
things and dishes)and to never, never really wonder i
mean about the smell
of babies and how you

know the dam rent’s going to and everything and never, 
     never
Never to stand at no window
because I can’t sleep(smoking sawdust


cigarettes in the
middle of the night


If I remember correctly, cummings is (most?) famous for his…I guess the word is style. He breaks off sentences in places where a reader might not expect them and uses parentheses in very unusual ways. I think that it works well in some places but just confuses me in others. If I can’t make out what you’re saying how will I respond to it? How do I respond to it?

Not a bad introduction to the poet.
Tags: anthology, poetry
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