Edward Estlin Cummings was born on October 14, 1894 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to academic parents who early on encouraged him to develop his creative gifts (Everett). His was a happy childhood; he grew up in a spacious, sunny house, his neighborhood was full of children who roamed the nearby woods and played baseball during summer or skated on a local pond in the winter (Berry, 8). When he grew up, he acknowledged the impact his parents had on him, stating that it had been “my joyous fate and supreme good fortune” to belong to such family (Berry, 8).
According to Reef, Estlin once said “I did not decide to become a poet – I was always writing poetry (5)”. He did not originally start writing in the form for which he is best known today. When he was young, he wrote poetry and produced pencil drawings. His love of language was encouraged by his mother, who made up word games to encourage his creativity (Blanchard and Falcetti, 58). At the same time, his poetry is filled with descriptions and images of nature, natural elements, and natural processes (Parekh). He took his father’s pastoral background and used it to preach in many of his other poems (Eich).
Estlin graduated from Harvard for his BA and MA studies. His travels took him to different places around the world. When war broke out between US and Germany in 1917, Estlin joined a Red Cross unit in France as an ambulance driver (Reef, 29). There, he and a friend were imprisoned on suspicion of espionage (www. poets. org). This experience resulted in his novel, The Enormous Room. He also traveled throughout Europe, where he met poets and artists including Pablo Picasso. He divided his life between Paris and Greenwich Village, and later between the Village and his New Hamsphire farm (Schmidt, 85).
He became widely known as a whimsical and experimental poet (www. who2. com) whose radical use of “form, punctuation, spelling and syntax, abandoning traditional techniques and structures created a new, highly idiosyncratic means of poetic expression (www. poets. org)”. In addition, the landscape of New England with its animals, fields and forests influenced his poetry and infused it with images from the natural world (Shuman, 318). As Shuman succinctly point out: His poetry combines a child’s enthusiasm for the wonders of the natural world with a sophisticated adult’s wariness of official positions and conventional thinking (311).
One such poem is the wonderful in just- . The poem quite simply is about the beginning of a new season: “in just-/ spring. ” In this poem, Estlin “coins words, alters punctuations and invents his own typography. Thus, the poem itself represents creativity and how it spring from the earth (Phelan)”. The poem then continues on to paint a picture of Spring and embodies the themes of innocence and childhood. This poem in particular embodies his view, where Estlin himself explains: In so far as a human being is an artist, skies and mountains and oceans and thunderbolts and butterflies are immeasurable; and art is every mystery of nature (314-15).
in Just- spring when the world is mud- luscious the little lame balloonman whistles far and wee and eddieandbill come running from marbles and piracies and it’s spring when the world is puddle-wonderful the queer old balloonman whistles far and wee and bettyandisbel come dancing from hop-scotch and jump-rope and it’s spring and the goat-footed balloonMan whistles far and wee e. e. cummings WORKS CITED Berry, S. L. “E. E. Cummings. ” Indiana: The Creative Company, 1994. Blanchard, Mary Loving, and Cara Falcetti. “Poets for Young Adults.
” New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. Cummings, E. E. “100 Selected Poems. ” Atlanta: Grove Press, 1994. Cummings, E. E. “Commentary on Life and Art by E. E. Cummings. ” New York: October House, 1965. “E. E. Cummings. ” Academy of American Poets. 12 Dec 2008. <http://www. poets. org/poet. php/prmPID/156> “E. E. Cummings. ” A Who2 Profile. 12 Dec 28. < http://who2. com/ask/eecummings. html> Eich, Marty. “E. E. Cummings Biography. ” 12 Dec 2008. <http://famouspoetsandpoems. com/poets/e__e__cummings/biography> Everett, Nicholas. “E. E. Cumming’s Life. ” March 2001. Modern American Poetry.
Dec 2008. < http://www. english. uiuc. edu/maps/poets/a_f/cummings/cummings_life. htm> Parekh, Pushpa N. “Nature in the Poetry of E. E. Cummings. ” Spring Volume 3 1994: 63-71. Phelan, Julie. “Poetry analysis: in Just- by E. E. Cummings. ” 12 Dec 2008. <http://www. helium. com/items/1140501-google-yahoo-poetry-analysis-in-just–by-ee-cummings-poetry-summary? page=1> Reef, Catherine. “E. E. Cummings: A Poet’s Life. ” New York: Clarion Books, 2006. Schmidt, Michael. “The Great Modern Poets. ” London: Quercus, 2006. Shuman, Robert Baird “Great American Writers. ” New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2002.
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