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Edward Estlin Cummings Essay

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Edward Estlin Cummings or E. E. Cummings,as he was popularly called was an American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright. His body of work encompasses approximately 2,900 poems, two autobiographical novels, four plays and several essays, as well as numerous drawings and paintings. He is remembered as a preeminent voice of 20th century poetry. One of his major work is the poem “ I thank You God”. The poem by e. e. cummings, titled “I thank you God for most this amazing… ” suggests a way of perception that differs from ordinary vision.

We notice first in this poem that the day itself is seen as amazing; the “spirits of trees” that leap suggest their form; the sky is a “blue true dream,” and “everything” is natural, infinite and “yes”. The speaker is almost breathless; he hardly pauses, having no space even between his semi-colons. We find the poet both dead, then reborn in his communication with the earth and with nature; he is gradually converted into a new realm of awareness.

As in the case of any small child, he views the earth’s existence in the language of his newfound cognizance–he is reborn, thus so is the sun and life and love and wings, even the earth itself.

All things are new precisely because he is renewed. Next, his senses become the conduits to the metaphysical. By the word “God” he could mean a personal deity or a pantheist unity unimaginable in essence. The gist of the poem speaks more effectively to the former–glorying in the senses arises from gratitude, which begs a subject. It would be difficult to be grateful to impersonality. Rather, the poem takes on a sacramental meaning; the poet penetrates the world, and the earth itself–as it should–becomes the conduit to unearthly faith.

The speaker is finite, a “human merely being” grasping for the “unimaginable” infinite, and discovering faith through what is; in other words, through the physicality of the earth surrounding him. Hence, he concludes, “now the ears of my ears awake and/now the eyes of my eyes are opened,” an allusion to a common motif running through much of the Christian Scriptures. Ecclesiastes, for instance, contains a lament for “the eye not filled with seeing”; the prophet Isaiah condemns those with “ears who do not hear” because of hardened hearts.

The poet’s enlightenment, interestingly, begins with gratitude and an appreciation for nature, the sun and sky, and this is what leads to life and love and wings, all of which erase doubt. This is an unusual route to enlightenment, and unlike pantheism (which in its many forms begins with a fundamental rejection of nature as illusory and ends with the abdication of the self). Rather, cummings affirms with humility his humanity and all of nature, the “great happening illimitably earth”. The process he describes thus begins with thanks and revelry in the senses and ends with faith and enlightenment.

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