we are everything more than believe

E. E. Cummings

i love you much (most beautiful darling) more than anyone on the earth and i like you better than everything in the sky.

e. e. cummings

38
50 Poems

by e. e. cummings

love is the every only god

who spoke this earth so glad and big
even a things all small and sad
man,may his mighty briefness dig

for love beginning means return
seas who could sing so deep and strong

one querying wave will whitely yearn
from each last shore and home come young

so truly perfectly the skies
by merciful love whispered were
completes its brightness with your eyes

any illimitable star.


Estlin and Marion scrapped by the mid to late 1930’s and limped into the war years financially, but their love affair and intellectual and artistic pursuits thrived.  Cummings was publicly ridiculed following the publication of No Thanks by several snobbish critics who seemed to get a thrill of berating Cummings in print.  It got so bad that Cummings was singularly nominated by a New York critic linked to one of his former publishers for having written “the worst book of the year” in 1936.  There was a one time silver lining out of all this combined commercial failure of the previous 14 years; it meant its was incredibly cheap to repurchase the rights of everything he had published up until that point.  This fact opened the door for a partnership with a savvy editor at Harcourt Brace, Charles Pearce, known as Cap among colleagues. Pearce was a fan of Cummings and felt his best work was not getting the respect it deserved.  He believed there was a market, particularly among younger poetry readers, for Cummings best poems, repackaged as an early retrospective.  Cap convinced Estlin to work with him to evaluate the past and add a solid addition of 22 new poems, including; you shall above all things be glad and young and may my heart always be open to little, and release it in 1938 as Collected Poems.   Cap also had some unique marketing ideas, including having Cummings record an album of a selections of more popular poems from this edition and his next to co-promote with the book.  It resulted in slowly improving sales and generally favorable reviews for both volumes.  Pearce was a capable editor, not only with a keen eye, but also a steady hand to reign in Cummings  more self destructive tendencies in terms of publishing.  Pearce guided Cummings to showcase his more positive poems in the book that imprint his artistic vision and to leave out the experimental poetry that was to most readers, confusing and a turn off. 

Cummings and Marion were largely happy during the war years, despite huge concerns for their friends all around Europe.   The success of the 1938 edition, opened the door for 50 Poems in 1940, which contains some of Cummings most iconic poems or at least his most anthologized, anyone lived in a pretty how town, my father moved through dooms of love and love is more thicker than forget.  Cummings was on an upswing career wise.  Marion and Estlin continued to foster strong friendships among artistic and intelligent younger people, attracted to his poetry and artistic spirit and Marion’s gentle beauty.

They each started also having some health issues, Cummings suffered from chronic back pain and Marion began experiencing painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Their health issues seemed to strengthen their commitment to each other.  They stood by each other, visiting daily when one or the other was hospitalized.  It was also during this time that Rebecca, Cummings’ Mother died in September of 1946.  It meant Cummings and his sister received the remainder of the estate that their Father had created, though it had been diminished by the impact of the depression.   However, for Estlin and Marion, who had always lived beyond thrifty, there was a little more breathing room in terms of finances, allowing them the freedom to travel a bit more, connecting with friends in the western U. S. during the war year and Europe once it was over.

I picked two poems for today’s post with a similar theme; love with a bit of theological influence Cummings style thrown in.   The one above is from his 1940 volume 50 Poems and the one below is from his 1944 volume. It would have been easier to share the more popular poems from these two volumes, but I have already done so for most of them in posts before this January retrospective began, so I choose to not revisit old territory.  The poem love is thicker than forget, is an amazing poem in my opinion.   It once again delivers on the promise of Cummings’ unique style and content fusing into something truly beautiful and unique.  Neither of these poems on today’s blog rise to that level in my mind, but they are close.  And it is this greater consistency in the poetry that he published in these years that will open the door to greater recognition and better sales in the final years of his writing career.


LIV
1 X 1
(One Times One)

by e. e. cummings

if everything happens that can’t be done
(and anything’s righter
than books
could plan)
the stupidest teacher will almost guess
(with a run
skip
around we go yes)
there’s nothing as something as one

one hasn’t a why or because or although
(and buds know better
than books
don’t grow)
one’s anything old being everything new
(with a what
which
around we come who)
one’s everyanything so

so world is a leaf so a tree is a bough
(and birds sing sweeter
than books
tell how)
so here is away and so your is a my
(with a down
up
around again fly)
forever was never till now

now i love you and you love me
(and books are shuter
than books
can be)
and deep in the high that does nothing but fall
(with a shout
each
around we go all)
there’s somebody calling who’s we

we’re anything brighter than even the sun
(we’re everything greater
than books
might mean)
we’re everyanything more than believe
(with a spin
leap
alive we’re alive)
we’re wonderful one times one