Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
28

A Lost E.E. Cummings Poem Discovered



This previously unknown E.E. Cummings poem was discovered in a folder of correspondence between the poet and his friend and publisher, Scofield Thayer. (Main story.)



© 2011 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust. Used by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.

Use of archived materials courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Gaston Lachaise's bust of Scofield Thayer on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

24 Comments / Post A Comment

sunnyciegos (#551)

Wow.

Oh. From the headline I thought this might be something that turned up in Balk's garage. This is totally real. And pretty great.

Bittersweet (#765)

@NotAndersonCooper: Ditto. And ditto.

my favorite poet
*LOVE*

Mr. B (#10,093)

THIS is~!

(pretty damn)
cool;

barnhouse (#1,326)

I enjoyed this just hugely, thank you.

kpants (#719)

This was fantastic, thanks.

hapax (#6,251)

I love everything about this essay, but perhaps my favourite thing is the phrase "cheap boulevardier," which I intend to use to disparage every single person I dislike from this point forward.

Extraordinary.

KeithTalent (#2,014)

(According to Wikipedia) Scofield Thayer's uncle wrote Casey at the Bat. I thought that was too good a bit of trivia not to share.

Scofield is a pretty kickass first name.

sigerson (#179)

@KeithTalent – Yes – see, e.g., Scofield Barracks in Hawaii in From Here to Eternity

I hate this poem.

In particular, I find the use of "noiselessly" as an adjective to be incredibly irritating.

I'm not much of a 20th Century poetry buff, I guess.

@MisterHippity By the way, I'm not saying the poem is bad. I'm sure that many things I hate are good, and this poem could be one of those things. But I just felt compelled to share that because my reaction to this poem was so forceful and negative. Am I the only one? And is my reaction perhaps related in some way to what makes the poem actually good?

Mr. B (#10,093)

@MisterHippity Well, I do think a little Cummings goes a long way. He basically wrote the same poem over and over again for his whole career, and just picking up his 10-pound complete poems makes me want to go to sleep. At the same time …

"[I]s my reaction perhaps related in some way to what makes the poem actually good?"

I think yes! Cummings obviously knew perfectly well that "noiselessly" isn't an adjective; he's the guy who pushed the envelope of poetic license (in that sense) as far as any of his contemporaries. So the fact that you had a strong reaction to it, even a negative one, is a kind of measure of the poem's success, no? "Noiselessly falling snow" would have been a tiresome cliche, but "noiselessly snow" is echt-Cummings.

Of course, the big knock against Cummings (and this I tend to agree with) is that, while his experimentation with form was often exciting, the thought behind his poems — the argument, or logical flow, or what have you — was seldom very original or interesting, and that's why most scholars have demoted him to the ranks of the minor poets (around the level of H.D. and W. C. Williams) in the decades since he died.

Am I the only one who thinks he looks like Thom Yorke in that picture?

10785812@twitter (#284,529)

@Ryan Joseph@facebook ee yorke/ thom cummings amazing! there are famili??

Griffin Hawkins (#13,074)

Cummings visited Thayer in Worcester in 1930, reporting that his friend seemed a “captive of his nurses and mother.” There is no evidence of any later meeting.

talewerri360 (#13,079)

jioju

sigerson (#179)

Great stuff. And a coup for The Awl in publishing it!

Saw this last night, keep coming back to it. Thanks for a good read!

Mr. B wrote, "…while his experimentation with form was often exciting, the thought behind his poems — the argument, or logical flow, or what have you — was seldom very original or interesting…" and I tend to agree with that assessment. But I will defend to the death "Buffalo Bill's/ defunct." Not even Dylan Thomas achieved such righteous rage against the dying of the light!

OlawdyMum (#13,309)

Is this the James Dempsey who used to write for the Worcester (MA)Telegram & Gazette? Just curious.

idylcruz (#13,348)

Nice piece, but am not really a fan of Cummings.

Post a Comment