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"you said Is" and "she being Brand"

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"you said Is" and "she being Brand"


I thought bad grammar in prose was bad enough, but these poems make my eyes bleed.



you said Is


you said Is

there anything which

is dead or alive more beautiful

than my body,to have in your fingers

(trembling ever so little)?

Looking into

your eyes Nothing,i said,except the

air of spring smelling of never and forever.


....and through the lattice which moved as

if a hand is touched by a


moved as though

fingers touch a girl's



Do you believe in always,the wind

said to the rain

I am too busy with

my flowers to believe,the rain answered



she being Brand


she being Brand


-new;and you

know consequently a

little stiff i was

careful of her and(having


thoroughly oiled the universal

joint tested my gas felt of

her radiator made sure her springs were O.


K.)i went right to it flooded-the-carburetor cranked her


up,slipped the

clutch(and then somehow got into reverse she

kicked what

the hell)next

minute i was back in neutral tried and


again slo-wly;bare,ly nudg. ing(my


lev-er Right-

oh and her gears being in

A 1 shape passed

from low through

second-in-to-high like

greasedlightning)just as we turned the corner of Divinity


avenue i touched the accelerator and give


her the juice,good




was the first ride and believe i we was

happy to see how nice she acted right up to

the last minute coming back down by the Public

Gardens i slammed on






brakes Bothatonce and


brought allofher tremB


to a:dead.







Does anybody read e e cummings for pleasure, or just as part of their degree?




Hazel 28th July 2006 02:26 PM

I really like e e cummings, and although I did come to him via my degree work, I do now read him for pleasure. I like the fact that he messes with language and graphology, and I like having my mind messed with.




megustaleer 28th July 2006 04:41 PM


Originally Posted by Hazel

and I like having my mind messed with.

Is this something you want the world to know :yikes: ?




Hazel 1st August 2006 07:02 PM

Spookily, in my uni work today, we had to read analysation of 'she being Brand', I really enjoyed it.


And yes, I don't mind people knowing that I liked to have my head messed with - doesn't everyone? Why else do we read? ;)




Adrian 2nd August 2006 01:14 AM

But is he doing it to "mess with our heads" or is just a gimmick? Something he does because he can. I'd be interested in his thought processes as to why he chose to split the lines that way, why lower-case I's, why that line was indented and not that one, etc.


It all looks arbitary to me and it takes me out of the poem. I spend more time wondering about such things instead of enjoying the poem, so to me he's failed.


To be fair, there are parts of it like, such as this portion which captures the atmosphere beautifully:






brakes Bothatonce and


Where's David with his reliably spot-on analysis?




Hazel 2nd August 2006 07:51 AM

e cummings always wrote that way, so I think we can say it's not a gimmick. He always used lower case letters. The line breaks simulate the stopping/starting and juddering of trying to start up a new car, possibly one you are not familiar with. If you read the poem as you imagine a juddering car you will soon get the picture. The removal of gaps in words illustrates things occuring simultaneously or very quickly. The deviation from grammar and punctuation is all designed to simulate the movement of the car. The smoothest bit of the poem occurs when things go right with the car's performance -


was the first ride and believe i we was

happy to see how nice she acted right up to

the last minute coming back down by the Public

Gardens i slammed on


then the car falters again and so does the poem's fluidity.


Try reading it as if you are a juddering car (or fumbling lover if you want to take the other interpretation for this poem's theme) then you see the e e cumming has been very clever.




Hazel 2nd August 2006 07:07 PM

Adrian, try this more conventional, but very beautiful poem by e e cummings -


i carry your heart with me by e. e. Cummings


i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you


here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart


i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)




Adrian 3rd August 2006 01:58 AM

Thanks for the recommendation Hazel.


I did get the "fumbling lover" analogy and thought it was a fun way to write it with both meanings. I also got why he used the line breaks and the playing with punctuation as a way to get across the meaning.


It's like when I look at some pieces of modern art. I find myself dwelling on the form and structure of the work too much to the detriment of just enjoying them. I find it difficult to lose myself in them. i carry your heart with me appealed more, due no doubt to the more usual structure.


I'll see what the library has of him, try a few more.




Hazel 3rd August 2006 08:29 AM


Originally Posted by Adrian

It's like when I look at some pieces of modern art. I find myself dwelling on the form and structure of the work too much to the detriment of just enjoying them. I find it difficult to lose myself in them. i carry your heart with me appealed more, due no doubt to the more usual structure.



I guess the more you immerse yourself in a particular poet's style, the technical structure becomes less intrusive and you can concentrate on the words and meaning more so. The structure should not be so much of a distraction to the detriment of the poem - but I do believe that poetry should be unsettling and require close reading. It's wonderful that such a sort span of words can contain so much meaning and interpretation.


I am glad you are going to look at more of cummings' work - even have a look at his memoir The Enormous Room.



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Hmmm. Having just posted on the resurrected Blake thread I see I hadn't contributed to this one either.


Very kind of you, Adrian, to characterise my analysis as you do, but I can't live up to it here because I've never spent much time in the poetic company of Mr Cummings.


It's not, as you might imagine, because I'm irritated by the deviation from grammatical accuracy, though. Poetry is always about breaking rules in order to create meaning and all poetry, in a way, defines itself by the manner in which it conflicts with the expected. Even the most conventional of poems deviates from the normal use of language through the artificial structures of rhythm, line arrangement and so on.


Cummings isn't simply being gimmicky, either, because there's a consisitent rationale behind what he does and a valid exploration of the power to create meaning through his breaks from the conventions of punctuation, syntax, capitalisation etc..


It's just that it doesn't really do a lot for me! It's possible that I simply haven't looked at enough of his work, but I find the self-conscious form rather distracting from an organic sense of depth, as if it almost trivialises the meaning. Also the subject matter, ironically, is often a bit too 'prosaic'. I suspect that's his point because it creates a clear juxtaposition with his anti-artful art!


I guess I simply prefer poetry that plays with meaning fundamentally through words rather than the technicalities of expression. What he does is perfectly valid, but it sinks rather than floats my particular poetic boat.

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