Sunday, March 28, 2010

it may not always be so - e.e. cummings

If there is too little love poetry from Jarrell (yesterday's selection), the opposite is true with e.e. cummings (1894-1962).  Fertile in his output, choosing something from him is like selecting a chocolate from an assortment box: there is one to satisfy any craving and even the wrong pick is someone else's favorite.  He will be well-represented during the run of this blog.  Cummings is  perennially popular and re-discovered by every generation of love-sick college students wanting quotable poems.  In his Complete Poems, a tongue-tied freshman could find enough love poems - fitting every occasion and lass - to last him through all four undergraduate years.   Cummings experiments with punctuation, syntax, etc.  and the sensuality and sexuality in his work added to the appeal.  Fortunately (or unfortunately), I did not get a copy of it until Spring of my third-year or else I would have read fewer poets... This one was an early favorite.  It has a sweetness and romanticism that still cuts through the cynical layers life inevitably forces on us as protective covers.   (I say "force" because who would choose cynicism as a life-style??) I like this poem for that ability and also for its clearly-impossible-to-follow example of how to be in real life in that situation!  
it may not always be so

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.
                                                                                                      e.e. cummings - American

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