ABSTRACTReading a poem by Americanmodernist poet Edward Estlin Cummings isnot like reading a poem by other poets. To understand his experimental work, onemust first understand Cummings, his opinions and perspectives. Throughout hiscareer Cummings dedicated his life to the pursuit of remaining in anactive state of creating, and therefore experimented with many artistic mediums.Cummings is not usually thought of as a classically-influenced poet; rather hisunconventional experimentation with form, grammar, punctuation, spelling andsyntax brought him much attention, creating an inspiring individuality.Cummings poem ‘i carry your heart with me’ is immediately recognizable as a Cummings poem asthe title gives it away, for he was famous for his use of lowercase, sometimeseven using it in his name, as in ee cummings. Cummings wasa Modernist, and Modernists believed in stripping away all that wasunnecessary in a poem in order to showcase its form.
Thisarticle examines some interesting features of E. E. Cummings’ poetry, his styleof writing along with a stylisticanalysis of E.E Cummings’ poem “i carry your heart with me”, in order to betterunderstand the main idea of the poem which is ideal, selfless and profound lovefor his beloved.
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Keywords: experimental; modern poetry;Cummings; “I carry your heart with me”;poet Table of Contents Front Page Abstract Table of Contents 1. INTRODUCTION……………………………………………….4 2. An Introduction to Modern Poetry. 5 3. Biography of the Poet E.E. Cummings.
7 3.1 E.E. Cummings Style of Writing.
10 4. An Analysis of E.E.
Cummings “I carry your heart with me. 11 4.1 Analysis of the Poem.. 12 5.
CONCLUSION.. 13 Works Cited. 14 1.
INTRODUCTIONThe period oftime from the late nineteenth and the early part of the twentieth centuries,known as the Modernist period, witnessed the appearance of mostly philosophicaland profoundly different pieces of literature. The writers of these literary works(focusing specifically on E.E. Cummings in this paper) employed and applied newmethods and characteristics concerning style, plot, point of view, character, grammar,etc. in their writings. Moreover these authors also had an extremely different visionon life influenced by years of war and depression, scientific theories such as thatof Darwin’s evolution, social disputes involving religion, and politicalissues, which generated a gloomy and weary feeling to this period of literature(HOLT, et al, 1996).Consequently thereare numerous works that embody the main characteristics of this period. Theseinclude the experimental forms such as free verse and stream of consciousnesswhich are the easiest to recognize in modernist writings.
One author inparticular who regularly applies these experimental forms in his works is T.S.Eliot. His poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, is a dramatic monologuethat makes use of extreme stream of consciousness.
Also considered to be one ofthe most experimental poets and the focus of this paper is American poet and painterE.E. Cummings. His use of peculiar experimental word coinages, shifting ofgrammar, blending of established stanzaic forms and free verse, flamboyantpunning, typographic distortion and the most unusual punctuation, makes himstand out amongst the modernist writers (Day, 2010).
Some otherstriking features of Modernism is the fall from innocence, denoting thatmankind has fallen into corruption, evil, and immorality chiefly as a result ofboth world wars and the Spanish Revolution, which resulted in the wipe out of muchof Europe and the appalling acts of violence committed by men against eachother. This fall from innocence is clearly portrayed in Wystan Hugh Auden’s poem”Lullaby”. Furthermore Modernism witnessed the existence of extreme humansuffering, which can be considered one of the most dominant features of thatperiod. Additionally Modernist writers shifted the setting of their writingfrom nature or rural areas to the cities.
This was the result of the rapidgrowth of the cities because such a huge amount of people were moving to thecities from the countryside. Writers depicted the darkness and filth associatedwith the cities to highlight the misery and suffering abound in them (Blades,2011).It can be saidthat the beginning of the twentieth century witnessed some of the worst eventsin the history of mankind. The results of the great Wars had ruined most ofEurope, killed millions of people and had left millions more in poverty to thepoint of starvation. These aftermaths of the war led many to consider thatthere was no ending to the pain and suffering witnessed by all.
Thisexemplified in Samuel Beckett “Endgame” where he portrays this eternalsuffering throughout the play. Ultimately, the devastation as a result of allthe Wars of the end of the 19th and early 20th centuriesgreatly altered humanities outlook on life, bringing into question how Godcould have possibly allowed such a repulsive events to have occurred (May, 2010).Authors such E. E. Cummings and many more utilized a range of groundbreakingand idiosyncratic methods and techniques in their works to depict the sufferingand sorrow experienced my many, and hence, launched a new genre of literature calledModernism.
The following information will shed light on E.E. Cummings as amodernist poet, his biography as well as his style of writing with one of hismost well-known poems analyzed and exemplified.2. An Introduction to Modern Poetry The Modernist movement was a period of new revolutionary ideas particularlyin the field of poetry. Generally modern literature can be characterized by theradical break with the traditions of literary subjects, forms, concepts andstyles. Regarding the field of modern poetry, the modernist elements can be examinedwith regards to four key subheadings: modern or new experiments in form and greatvariety of styles as in the case of Cummings’ poems, new themes and word-games,new manners of expression, and complex and open-ended nature of their themes (Galens,2002).It can beargued that modern poetry is usually described as being highly experimental,meaning that it is a bold search for new forms of poetic expression or ratherthe experimentation of new modes of expression.
Another way modern poetry canbe defined is through the words of none other than TS Eliot himself who stated that”The best contemporary poetrycan give us a feeling of excitement and a sense of fulfillment different fromany sentiment aroused even by very much greater poetry of a past age” (Howarth,2012).Most modernpoetry can be characterized by a feeling of anxiety about the world. Widespreadindustrialization, rapid technological advance, new insights about human natureand the universe, and the general disillusionment as a result of the world warshave impacted changing the shape and pace of modern life for the worse. Poets suchas T.S.
Eliot and E.E. Cummings have reacted to these things in a number ofways. For example both have expressed in their works, the desire to escape fromthe modern world and have responded to the challenge of modern life by upholdingsuch universal values as beauty and love (Ramachandran, 2015). Since Modernismcontains the many ‘-isms’, modern poets used many different methods to expressideas and feelings. These included the imagist way which was established byEzra Pound in 1912. Here, poets would present concrete images so that readerscan comprehend the idea and experience the feelings themselves through thesenses.
Moreover symbolism also had a profound influence on poets by allowingthem to express things in terms of deeply significant symbols of ideas andfeelings so that readers will be able to interpret them intellectually. Realismallowed poets to truly reflect the veracity of the world. Naturalism portrayedextreme realism by reflecting on the private, psychological, fantastic and theneurotic (Pedersen, 2014). Furthermore impressionism focused on individualmoments of experience. Moreover expressionism was a way of pondering deep intoone’s own mind and attempting to voice the unconscious and deepest feelings.Finally the surrealist tried to inflict on the mood of madness, intoxicationand neurosis to excite the illogical “language” (Howarth, 2012).
Finally it canbe concluded that modernist poets have ignored all the famous conventions andtraditional rules of the preceding eras in turn for the testing of a variety ofnew experiment. Each modern poet makes his own rules in their poems; hence thismultiplicity of styles is what makes up modernist poetry (Harding, 2007).3. Biography of the Poet E.E.Cummings Edward Estlin Cummings, or more commonly known as E.
E. Cummings, was notonly a notable American poet but also a well-known painter, essayist, author,and playwright. Considered to be one of the most innovative poets of the modernage, his vast experimentation with the poetic form and language allowed him todevelop his own personal style. Cummings life achievements consists of thecomposition of 2900 poems, two autobiographical novels, four plays and manyessays, as well as a number of paintings and drawings, hence Cummings isconsidered a key voice of the twentieth century (Eich, 2009).Bornon,October 14, 1894 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, E.
E. Cummings was the first oftwo children born to Edward Cummings and Rebecca Haswell Clarke. E.E.
Cummingswas raised in a well-educated family and was considered to be very intelligent,something he acquired from his talented father. Edward Cummings was aninstructor at Harvard University teaching sociology and political science. Hewould later leave this job to become a Unitarian minister. From a young age E.E.
Cummings grew up in Harvard yard where he was constantly surrounded by allaspects of Cambridge culture and tradition, with playmates including childrenof other Harvard professors (GirRóN, 1991). He had an exceptional relationshipwith his parents, especially his mother, who constantly encouraged him to writepoetry on a daily basis. Hence his talents allowed him to produce his firstpiece of work at the age three, writing his first poem entitled “Oh, the prettybirdie, O; with his little toe, toe, toe!” By the time Cummings would attend high school, he was already composingstories and verses by the age of fifteen he was writing poems on a daily basis.In 1911,Cummings enrolled at Harvard University and would later get his bachelors andmaster’s degree here. He continued to reside at home for the first three yearsof education. His studies gave him an in-depth background in English andclassical literature as well as good knowledge of the language which wouldlater be of great value to him in his poetic career. Cummings was an activestudent at University, he was an active writer for the Harvard Monthly journal,and in 1912 he published his first poems in that journal (Cohen,1990).
Harvard University introduced Cummings to avariety of avant-garde developments, like Cubism in painting and the Imagistexperiments of Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein. During his years at Harvard, Cummings had rebellious viewpoints toward traditional,conventional art and literature, hence praisingimagination, intuition, and the individual. He would go on to inspire and influence later poets to exercise morefreedom in their writings. These outlooks would be characteristic of mostof Cummings works throughout his life (GirRóN, 1991).In 1916, after obtaining his master’s degreefrom Harvard, Cummings moved to New York and worked at an office job. Not beingsatisfied with the job, he left for France the following year to volunteer inan Ambulance Corps for the American Red Cross. After just a short time beinghere Cummings was imprisoned for four months by the French authorities oncharges of treason, this imprisonment lead to the publication of his first bookand autobiography, The Enormous Room and published it in 1922.
After beingreleased in 1918, he returned to New York City and soon after published hisfirst of twelve volumes of poetry Tulips and Chimneys (Cohen, 1990).Cummings is said to have married three times,his first marriage was to Elaine Orr in 1924, then in 1927 he renewed his vowsand married a second time to Anne Barton and finally his third and finalmarriage was to Marion Morehouse in 1932. Cummings took permanent residency inNew York City till his final days.
It’s not every day that a writer can change theway people write forever, Cummings did just that. In Cummings writings on hearsa voice that speaks volumes to the modern world, a voice warning and at thesame time a celebratory one. He was honored with many awards throughout his lifefor his extraordinary literary works and would influence writers to this day.E.E Cummings spent his final day working; he died onSeptember 3rd, 1962 in North Conway, New Hampshire at the MemorialHospital, due to his deteriorating health(Eich, 2009).
3.1 E.E. Cummings Styleof Writing E.E. Cummings is considered tobe one of the most experimental and innovative poets of the 20thcentury. He is famous for creating his own distinctive style of writing, onethat is still used by many poets today. It was during his years in Universitythat he took a profound interest in the modernist movement.
Despite hisinterest in avant-garde styles,most of Cummings works is traditional. His poems often deal with themes of loveand nature and are abundant with satire. His poetry also deals with therelationship of the individual to the world (Li, X and Shi, M 2015). During his years at college, Cummings studied Cubism andImpressionism, and was greatly influenced by the imagist experimentation ofpoet Ezra Pound and incorporated the imagist ideologies in his poetry.
Hislater visits to France would expose him to other movements including Dadaismand Surrealism. Nevertheless Cummings would eventually find his own innovativestyle, a style that would distinguish Cummings for many years to come (GirRóN, 1991).It can be said that previously most writing was built onrules that writers would follow, but Cummings changed all that by creating hisown rules or rather violated all rules of composition. One thing that he’s veryfamous for was his “radical” experimentation with the idiosyncrasy ofsyntax and linguistic like grammar, punctuation, capitalization, conjunction ofwords, and spelling. Other unique, linguistic features that he applied to hiswritings for his own purpose, was the use of verbs like “if”,”am”, and “because” as nouns (Saha, 2016).
Cummings poems have adistinguishable 14 line sonnet structure, with a complex rhyme scheme. Some ofhis poems are characterized by a typographical style, with words, parts ofwords or punctuation symbols scattered across the page. The reason he used thismethod is because he knew the importance of presentation, he wanted tochallenge readers both visually and psychologically by painting a picture inthe readers mind (Li and Shi, 2015).Cummings poems were mostlystraightforward with a focus on topics of war, sex, and love. His poemsattacked certain religions, politics and conformity.
He strongly portrayed hisdiscontent with people who followed society instead of being individualistic (Saha,2016). As stated by Cummings himself: “I realized it’s not so much about words orlyricism…it’s a poem of imagery, your brain picks out what words it can andarranges them into some sense within the jumble of symbols…and you read it morewith your mind like a picture then like a traditional poem” (Hawkins, n.d. p.1).
It is this idiosyncratic stateof E.E. Cummings poems that drew diverse readers to his poems and predestinedhim to come to be one of the most widely recognized literary figures of the 20thcentury (Saha, 2016). 4. An Analysisof E.E. Cummings “I carry your heart with me”Cummings is famous for his experimental ways ofwriting, but his subject matter was commonly traditional and simple.
Cumming’sfavored controversial topics such as war, death, and sex, but his favorite was topicsof love and season of rebirth. Cummings hasbeen called one of the best love poets of his time. The following will be ananalysis of Cummings poem “i carry your heart with me,” This poem hasbeen a favorite love poem and a favorite selection that has been recited inmany weddings and also in movies even up to the present day. This proves thatCummings writing still lives and continues to inspire many. i carry your heart with me(i carry it in i carry your heart with me(i carry it inmy heart)i am never without it(anywherei go you go,my dear;and whatever is doneby only me is your doing,my darling) ifearno fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i wantno world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meantand 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 budand the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which growshigher than soul can hope or mind can hide)and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart) (Ardagh, n.d.
p.1) 4.1 Analysis of the PoemThe poem icarry your heart with me (i carry it in is a deep and selfless love poem.It is about a profound and sincere love that transcends the soul and mind. Herewe observe a spontaneous overflow of emotions. There is an outburst offeelings. It is a profound love, the kind that keeps the stars apart and thattranscends the soul or the mind (Ardagh, n.d).
In this poem weobserve Cummings lack of use of capitalization. He has neglected the use of capitalletters. There is also unusual paragraphing in the poem. In this poem we cometo know that Cummings has taken on a unique and experimental style of writingby breaking certain set patterns of writing. The scheme of the poem is ABAB(Nawaz, 2014). i carry your heart with me(i carry it inconsist of four stanzas. The arrangement of lines in each stanza is different.
First stanza contains four lines, second contains five lines, third stanzacontains five lines and last one contains only one line. There is unusualcapitalization in this poem. We come to know that the first word of the titleof the poem i carry your heart with me(i carry it in is a small letter i.e.”i”. There is an unusual pattern of lines, unusual spacing, and unusualcapitalization in this poem. Cummings has made use of parenthesis and we don’t findthat there is any full stops at the end of any line which can indicate the rushof thoughts.
This lack of punctuation can indicate there are no limits andrestrictions in lovemaking, in the same way you can feel free from any rulesand set patterns of writing, while writing about your beloved. It shows poet’sintense love and uncontrollable passions for his beloved (Li and Shi, 2015).Anotherdistinctive feature of E.E.
Cummings poem is his lack of the use of capital lettersin his writings. I, which is a personal pronoun, and based on the rules ofgrammar must be written in capital letter, is violated here. We come to knowthat in this poem, there is unusual capitalization, unusual spacing and unusualpattern of lines in the stanzas. Also contracted forms of words are also beingused in this poem, something that is not allowed in the standard writing. Linepattern and line spacing is not according to the set norms of grammar(Ardagh, n.d.
).He also usesalliteration which creates music through playing words like sky of the sky, budof the bud and root of the root. We can say that, to some extent, in first andlast line of the poem, there is the use of the refrain. The refrain is theregular pattern of lines that follows after every stanza.
The poet has givenmetaphorical statements to compare the love and beauty of a girl with the moon,sun and stars. There is the use of imagery in this poem. Here is the use ofpersonification for the poet gives moon and sun human qualities who can sing likehuman beings (Nawaz, 2014).
5. CONCLUSIONItcan be concluded that E. E. Cummings was an exceptional poet. His style ofpoetry, which was mostly characterized by individuality, his distinctive form,structure and viewpoint, his use of traditional themes made Cummings a masterof the art of poetry in his own style. Many people to this day appreciate hisworks for its extreme uniqueness. Cummingsonce stated: “So far as Iam concerned, poetry and every other art was and is and forever will be strictlyand distinctly a question of individuality…Nobody else can be alive for you;nor can you be alive for anybody else” (Islam, 2011). This is Cummings firm belief on “the freedom of the individual to think andexplore and create,” Duringthe 20th century, America saw a rapid change in society ideals, thiswas a breaking point for modernist poets like E.
E. Cummings to gain theirtitle. After securing his place among the likes of other great American poetslike Ezra Pound, Cummings contributed a lot by helping shape literaryexpression in the 1900’s. Richard Kennedy, of the Modern American PoetryFoundation, notes: “heCummings continued to produce poems of with and ingenuity, of vigoroussatire, and of beauty and delicacy well into his seventh decade” (Everett, 2001). It is because of these characteristics that by the time ofhis death in 1962, E.E.
Cummings had become one of America’s most belovedmodernist poets, and the most widely read as well.