Edward Estlin Cummings, famously known as E. E. Cummings, was born on the 14th of October in 1894, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, America. He was a brilliant son of Edward Cummings, a professor, while his mother, Rebecca Haswell Clarke, was a housewife. From an early age, his parents adored his creative abilities and supported him in pursuing his interest in writing. His mother’s storytelling techniques filled him with a unique aesthetic sense. Also, his literate neighbors, such as William James and Josiah Royce, played a pivotal role in his early development as a literary man.
E. E. Cummings was interested in literature from childhood. He practiced writing poetry on a daily basis. His educational journey started at Cambridge Latin High School, where he studied Latin and Greek. Later, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University in 1915 and completed his master’s degree in English and Classical Studies in 1916. During his stay at Harvard, he took great interest in modern poetic terms, which ignored conventional syntax and grammar and made dynamic use of the language.
Marriage and Tragedy
E. E. Cummings, though, a prolific writer, remained unfortunate in terms of the marital relationship. He married twice, first to Elaine Orr and later to Ann Minnerly Barton. Cummings met Elaine Orr in 1918 and fell in love with her. Elaine was already married to one of his friends at Harvard. She divorced her first husband and married him on the 19th of March in 1924. Unfortunately, the couple did not develop a long-lasting relationship; they separated after two months and divorced after nine months. His second marriage, too, was also a failure. He married Ann in 1921 and separated after three years in 1923. Soon after separation, he met Marian Morehouse, a model, and a photographer. They lived together until his death.
E. E. Cummings died of a brain hemorrhage on the 3rd of September in 1962 at the age of 67 in New Hampshire and was buried at Frost Hill Cemetery, Boston. At the time of his death, he was categorized as the second most-read post.
Some Important Facts of Edward Estlin Cummings
- During the First World War, he was arrested on suspicion of espionage.
- He started writing poetry when he was just ten years old. His first collection of poetry is Tulips and Chimneys.
- He did not follow the conventional style of poetry. In fact, he is popular for unique phrasing and unconventional punctuation.
- During his lifetime, he received several honors including, two Guggenheim Fellowships, an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the Bollingen Prize in Poetry in 1958, and the Charles Eliot Norton Professorship at Harvard.
E. E. Cummings is the most influential author of all time. Though he started doing wonders in the literary field since childhood, yet his first publication, The Enormous Room made an appearance in 1922. The book recounted his jail experience and distrust of officialdom. The following year, his first book of verse, Tulips and Chimneys published, followed by XLI Poems in 1925. He also loved painting and drawing but did not receive the desired success. Therefore, he turned toward writings, and in 1933, his masterpiece, Emmi, experimental prose, made inroads into the literary world. His other writings include Santa Claus: A Morality, Collected Poems, Etcetera: The Unpublished Poems, 50 Poems, and ViVa.
After establishing his career as a poet and writer, he contributed much to the world of literature. He gained immense popularity on account of his thoughtful ideas, unconventional style, and unique use of punctuation. The early demise of his father, though, made him understand that the human condition is a blend of both; beauty and pain. Therefore, he expressed the ideas of love, life, and loss in his pieces more than others. Using lower case letters, distinct line breaks, and parenthesis, Cummings created a unique new style in his poetic writings. However, he intentionally used this unusual style of typography to separate himself from other writers. The recurring thematic strands in most of the writings are love, nature, beauty, the role of society, and mankind. Regarding literary devices, he often turns to metaphors, sensual imagery, symbolism, and similes to create a unique style.
Some Important Works of Edward Estlin Cummings
- Best Poems: He was an outstanding poet, some of his best poems include “Since Feeling is First”, “Next to of Course God America I”, “I Sing of Olaf Glad and Big”, “May I Feel Said He”, “Somewhere I Have Never Travelled Gladly Beyond”, “Buffalo Bill’s” “I Carry Your Heart With Me” and “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town.”
- Other Works: Besides writing poetry, he tried his hands on other genres of literature. Some of them include The Enormous Room, Fairy Tales, Santa Claus: A Morality, EIMI, and
E. E. Cummings Impact on Future Literature
E. E. Cummings was a dynamic writer who started his writing career at his young age and became popular during his lifetime. His unique writing style and literary qualities of his masterpieces brought praiseworthy changes into the world of literature. Also, he had a significant influence on a diverse range of writers and poets. Randall Jarrell, a literary critic, states that he is one of the most individual poets who ever lived. He expressed his thoughts and ideas in his literary pieces so well that even today, writers tend to imitate his style, considering him a role model for producing poetry.
- “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.” (I Carry Your Heart with Me)
- “I will take the sun in my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
with closed eyes
to dash against darkness.” (Poems, 1923-1954)
- “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.” (Selected Poems)