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Creator / E. E. Cummings

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E. E. Cummings (Edward Estlin Cummings in full, October 14, 1894 – September 3, 1962) was an American poet (as well as a playwright, painter, novelist, and lecturer) best known for his use of unusual punctuation, capitalization and grammar in his poems (to the extent that many people could tell you what a Cummings poem looks like, but far fewer could talk confidently about what any of his poems are about). He was of the Modernist movement, but his distinct style and voice sets him out even among them.

His name is sometimes rendered by others (including some of his publishers) as "e.e. cummings", in imitation of his style, but he himself preferred to punctuate his name the usual way. Also, it is a great deal more convenient for the wiki's purposes.

Pages on this wiki with page quotes by E. E. Cummings include:

His works provide examples of:

  • Affair Hair: A poem in which the wife initially suspects that her husband is having an affair... then he reveals that they have a new cat... then he reveals it's of the wrong colour.
  • all lowercase letters: a trademark of his, even in his name, but not universal to all his work.
  • Book Ends: The last stanza of "anyone lived in a pretty how town" echoes lines from the first two.
    spring summer autumn winter
    he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

    Women and men(both little and small)
    cared for anyone not at all
    they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
    sun moon stars rain
    Women and men(both dong and ding)
    summer autumn winter spring
    reaped their sowing and went their came
    sun moon stars rain
  • Civilized Animal: Played with in "when serpents bargain for the right to squirm"
  • I Meant to Do That: One of his poems describes a cat taking a tumble, then walking away nonchalantly as though nothing happened. Any cat owner can confirm that they do this all the time.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: As seen in "It May Not Always Be So, And I Say."
  • Mind Screw: "anyone lived in a pretty how town," for example, will only barely begin to make sense once you take "anyone" as a proper name, rather than a deliberately vague noun... or is that even how you're supposed to read it? And just how do you sow your isn'ts and reap your sames, anyway?
  • Ocean Awe: In "maggie and milly and molly and may," the ocean is not explicitly a new or amazing experience, but it is deeply spiritual, and healing.
    for whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
    it's always ourselves we find in the sea
  • Precision F-Strike: The title character of "i sing of Olaf glad and big."
  • Signature Style: Unconventional punctuation.
  • Spell My Name with a Blank: His autobiographical novel The Enormous Room features a character referred to as "B____" or "B." (whose real-world equivalent was Cummings' friend and colleague William Slater Brown).
  • Unconventional Formatting: Writing out poems one line at a time, or even two or three letters at a time... yep, unconventional all right.
  • Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: Under-usage. His commas were known to wither and suffocate when too few were forced to bear the load of too many phrases. Indeed, in the annals of comma neglect, only James Joyce is more dreaded.