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 E. E. Cummings

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Brief Bio

Edward Estlin Cummings was born on October 14, 1894 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Edward and Rebecca Haskwell Clarke Cummings. In 1911, e. e. cummings entered college at Harvard. Soon after he started attending college, he published his first poems in the Harvard Monthly. He received an M.A. degree in English and classical studies from Harvard. After graduation, he volunteered to serve as an ambulance driver in France during World War I. While in France, he was falsely accused of treason and held in military detention for 3 months. His experiences there served as a basis for many of his works that followed, particularly his narrative, The Enormous Room. After the war, cummings lived alternately between France and The United States, publishing his first compilation of poetry in 1923, called Tulips and Chimneys. He finally settled in New York. His writing style is one of the most innovative of the twentieth century. He uses distorted syntax and unusual punctuation to illustrate simple, and often satirical themes on either the decay of modern society, or on love.

Many say that cummings' multitude of love poems stem from his many marriages. On March 19, 1924, he married Elaine Orr, who he had had a daughter with some years earlier. He divorced her on December 4 of the same year. In 1927, he married Anne Barton. He later divorced her to marry model and actress Marion Morehouse, with whom he remained married until his death in 1962.

When considering the writing style of e. e. cummings, one must note his use of punctuation, sarcasm, rhyme and enjambment. The poetry of e. e. starts with the basic principle that punctuation is an art form all its own. He uses punctuation like a second alphabet, to add to the intensity of his poems, and to make points without using words. Perhaps a more commonly used form of poetic device is called enjambment, or the running-on of a sentence from one line to the next. Not only does e. e. use enjambment, but he uses it so freely that one sentence might be the entire poem, and might take up fifteen lines with nine words.

During the fifty-eight years in which e. e. cummings wrote poetry, the world changed immensely. Between 1904 and 1962, there were two world wars, as well as the war between Korea and the United States. The tumultuous quality of the world during this time had a large effect on cummings' writing. His narrative style piece, The Enormous Room, was directly affected by his experiences at a French prison during World War I. Some of his poems are a sarcastic look at urbanization; others examine the tension present in modern society.

Poems - 15 in all


E. E. Cummings

enter no
Buffalo Bill's
i go to this window
Humanity i love you
Chansons Innocentes: I
i sing of Olaf glad and big
Spring is like a perhaps hand
anyone lived in a pretty how town
the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls
somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond


E. E. Cummings - 2

Picasso
raise the shade
here is little Effie's head
i like my body when it is with your
"kitty". sixteen, 5' 11", white, prostitute.


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