(if there are any heavens… – e.e. cummings)
if there are any heavens my mother will(all by herself)have
one. It will not be a pansy heaven nor
a fragile heaven of lilies-of-the-valley but
it will be a heaven of blackred roses
my father will be(deep like a rose
tall like a rose)
standing near my
(swaying over her
with eyes which are really petals and see
nothing with the face of a poet really which
is a flower and not a face with
This is my beloved my
(suddenly in sunlight
he will bow,
& the whole garden will bow)
This week on the Influence: e.e. cummings.
Or “lower-case cummings” as William Carlos Williams liked to refer to him as.
Mine may have been the last generation to go through an adolescent phase of writing all in lower case out of homage to Cummings. Whether you did it for a year or just one poem, it happened – you went for the typographical thrill that he explored in his work.
What one discovers in this phase is that what comes off at first as easily imitable quirks of print are, in fact, part of a purposeful and powerful way with the line. (but I was young – what did I know?)
In the poem above, I marvel at the way he works the use of parentheses both to carry out the argument in the poem as well as adding a visual layer to the poem, the parentheses something like petals in the lines.
There is also a lot of emotion played out in the move from longer and shorter lines. The cut to parentheses mid-phrase hinges on something akin to doubt and nerve to say what must be said here.
Then there’s what isn’t said: both lines “standing near my” and later “This is my beloved my” cut off naming – with different meanings each time, so that in the absence of a word – just as in the absence of a mother/beloved – more and more gets left unsaid.
Charles Bukowski has a poem in which he talks about how he likes to think of E. E. Cummings as a pool hustler – a suiting image, really, a man smooth at a game of high stakes.