ZODML logo

Happy Birthday E.E. Cummings!

By ZODML on Wed, 15/10/2014 - 02:57

October 14 marks the birthday of American poet E.E. (Edward Estlin) Cummings (also spelled as e e cummings). Born in 1894, Cummings began writing poetry at the age of 8, developing a signature style of using grammar and syntax to give his work a distinct physical and oral shape which broke with poetic conventions of the time. After graduating from Harvard University, he worked for a book dealer and served in the US Army during World War I in the ambulance corps. Anti-war sentiments resulted in his spending three months in a detention camp, followed by a stint as a draftee in the army. He spent most of his life travelling and writing, and was the recipient of many literary awards as well as an honorary professorial seat at Harvard. He died on September 3, 1962. Read on for three of our favourites of his poems:



somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond

any experience,your eyes have their silence:

in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,

or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me

though i have closed myself as fingers,

you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens

(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,

as when the heart of this flower imagines

the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals

the power of your intense fragility:whose texture

compels me with the color of its countries,

rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes

and opens;only something in me understands

the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)

nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands  




Life is an old man carrying flowers on his head.

young death sits in a café

smiling,a piece of money held between

his thumb and first finger

(i say “will he buy flowers” to you

and “Death is young

life wears velour trousers

life totters,life has a beard” i

say to you who are silent.—”Do you see

Life?he is there and here,

or that, or this

or nothing or an old man 3 thirds

asleep,on his head

flowers,always crying

to nobody something about les

roses les bluets


will He buy? Les belles bottes—oh hear

,pas chères”)

and my love slowly answered I think so. But

I think I see someone else

there is a lady,whose name is Afterwards

she is sitting beside young death,is slender;

likes flowers.  


When Life Is Quite Through With

when life is quite through with

and leaves say alas,

much is to do

for the swallow,that closes

a flight in the blue;

when love’s had his tears out,

perhaps shall pass

a million years

(while a bee dozes

on the poppies, the dears;

when all’s done and said,and

under the grass

lies her head

by oaks and roses


About the Author