The poet's persona lies in a trench in northern France during the Great War, contemplating what his family
is thinking and doing. They are mostly involved either in making oddments of clothing for him and the
other soldiers, thinking about his gallantry or considering questions about the war itself. He, in the
meantime, is thinking about sex.
NOTE ON THE POET
ee cummings -- his real name was Edward Estlin -- was born in Massachusetts in 1894. His father was
a professor of Sociology and Political Science at Harvard University but who later became a Unitarian
Cummings was himself a Harvard graduate, obtaining a Masters degree in English and Classical Studies
in 1916. His intelligence and novel way of thinking, however, caused him to be ostracised and so he found
solace in his poetry.
Although he is known for his flamboyant style of writing, he also published a couple of novels and four
plays -- and was an artist who excelled in both drawing and painting.
Cummings' way of thinking was often transcendental, i.e. he believed it possible to reach an ideal spiritual
state by use of intuition rather than through established religious beliefs. Indeed, he reveals this concept
in "i thank You God for most this amazing".
His poetry was shaped by romantic tradition -- for example, he wrote many sonnets -- but he is best
known for his idiosyncratic style in which he used little punctuation, often wrote in the lowercase and
jumbled up the order of words.
It has been said that his poetry often makes little sense until it is read aloud. On the other hand, several
of his poems reveal his artistic flair in that they are pictures painted in words, e.g.
He was also known for his satire when addressing social issues, but he had a strong bias towards the
exuberance of love, sex and spiritual rebirth.
Cummings died of a stroke on September 3, 1962. He was 68 years of age. He had won many awards
for his work.
Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?