Friday, December 7, 2012

Cummings before concerts

Last night before a stirring Christmas performance by Apollo's Fire, I finished reading E.E. Cummings' little book of poems 1x1 yet again. I like the poems, and because the book fits neatly into a jacket pocket, I often take it with me to read while waiting for a concert to start and during intermissions. I have read the book at least three times, and because I generally read each poem two or three times each time through, you could say I have read the book at least six times. I began again at the beginning before the concert was over.

Cummings is not easy going, which explains why each poem needs to be read more than once. Lines like this are commonplace in his work:

        were in(give
give)bud when to me
made for by love
love said did
o no yes

Many times I haven't a clue what Cumming is saying. Other times I simply don't care. I love the poems simply for their word play, their infectious joy, their humor. Spring, as in the above lines, is a frequent topic in these poems. So is love. One times one equals one, and many of these poems speak of two people in live becoming one. Poetry about spring, especially in December, and  love, at any time of year, are always welcome.

Here are some of my favorite lines from three of his poems:

death,as men call him,ends what they call men
_ but beauty is more now than dying's when

so world is a leaf so tree is a bough
(and birds sing sweeter
than books
tell how)
so here is away and so your is a my
(with a down
around again fly)
forever was never till now

love is a deeper season
than reason;
my sweet one
(and april's where we're)

Reading E.E. Cummings must be a little bit like digging for gold. It's hard work, but the nuggets one finds are worth the effort.

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