Poetic Spotlight: I have found what you are like

E.E. Cummings, full-length portrait, facing le...

E.E. Cummings, full-length portrait, facing left, wearing hat and coat / World-Telegram photo by Walter Albertin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For many dabblers of the pen, poetry is a thing of strict forms and concentrated effort—a literary form of limitation that presses the writer to bear his or her most beautiful words to light through the overcoming of that struggle. Many of these forms, in turn, have been given differentiating names over the centuries–your sonnets, triolets, cinquains, etc. etc. Yet for every poet that adheres to such formulaic ventures, there is another that seems to exist to break the forms, to go their own path on the road to literature. While both are valid methods, the two sides have infuriated one another plenty over their long years together.

Few have provided more exasperation from fellow poets and the community at large than e.e. cummings. Though the man had his forms–truly, many of his poems are sonnets in fact–he also dabbled in the realms of freeverse, though it was his design and craft of his works-at-large that set brows furrowing. Words bounced about, periods interrupting sentences, commas and parentheses oh my oh my…he knew how to make the mind work for his pieces, in methods we now refer to often enough as “avant-garde.” Unconventional is about the best summary–anything more or anything less wouldn’t quite do the poet justice. He was a modernist, and often ruminated on topics of nature and death in his work. He also had something of a knack for “controversial” subject matter.

Remembered today as one of the foremost voices of the 20th century, cummings wrote somewhere in the ballpark of 2,900 poems, two autobiographical novels, four plays and several essays before his death in 1962.

Today, we examine “i have found what you are like,” a piece that certainly showcases a bit of cummings unique style…

i have found what you are like

i have found what you are like
the rain,

        (Who feathers frightened fields
with the superior dust-of-sleep. wields

easily the pale club of the wind
and swirled justly souls of flower strike

the air in utterable coolness

deeds of green thrilling light
                              with thinned

newfragile yellows

                  lurch and.press

-in the woods
             which
                  stutter
                         and

                            sing

And the coolness of your smile is
stirringofbirds between my arms;but
i should rather than anything
have(almost when hugeness will shut
quietly)almost,
               your kiss

~ee cummings

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3 thoughts on “Poetic Spotlight: I have found what you are like

  1. The trouble is that cummings knew what he was doing and wrote deliberately, creating “weighty” poems that meant something—but his success spawned an endless host of imitators who know nothing about traditional forms and think that playing games with capitalization, punctuation, and syntax makes their “poetry” mean something (and sometimes think in fact that playing such tricks is what makes it poetry at all).

  2. I freaking love e.e. cummings. somewhere i have never traveled,gladly beyond is one of my favorite poems ever written. I usually don’t read poetry, but his work has always resonated where others did not.

    • Well I suppose that’s the sign of great poets, no? When you can reach beyond even the usual audience, to captivate the hearts and minds of warier souls…

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