Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Poetry: Cross Pollination

"Houses at L'Estaque," 1908, Georges Braque.

)when what hugs stopping earth than silent is

)when what hugs stopping earth than silent is
more silent than more than much more is or
total sun oceaning than any this
tear jumping from each most least eye of star

and without was if minus and shall be
immeasurable happenless unnow
shuts more than open could that every tree
or than all life more death begins to grow

end's ending then these dolls of joy and grief
these recent memories of future dream
these perhaps who have lost their shadows if
which did not do the losing spectres mime

until out of merely not nothing comes
only one snowflake(and we speak our names

e e cummings

The lapel-grabbing rhythms, the tight rhyme scheme, and the classic theme are all there, but this sonnet is something else altogether when compared to other more traditional examples of the form, say by Millay or Shakespeare.

cummings was also a painter and his time in France brought him into close contact with the various goings-on of artists there. The influence of Cubism is obvious. Whereas Braque and Picasso fractured imagery, cummings applies a similar technique to syntax.

It's also interesting to compare the breakdown of objective imagery in Kandinsky's paintings with the dissolution of tonality in the music of the Second Viennese School.

But if you're going to steal an idea and elaborate on it, try to make sure it's a good one.

It's also good if you know what you're doing, and bad if you don't.


wunelle said...

Somehow I have stuck in memory an e. e. cummings poem (odd for me, when I know so little about poetry):

(with apologies for not punctuating properly)

anyone lived in a pretty how town
with up so floating many bells down
spring, summer, autumn, winter
he sang is didn't, he danced his did

women and men (both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sewed their isn't
they reaped their same
sun, moon, stars, rain

I'm still not sure how I remember that, or why I learned it, or even whether I remember it correctly.

caroline said...

i think it's really cool that you focused on the influence of cubism on cummings and the way in which that, in turn influenced his poetry. people tend to forget, amongst his great anthologies, that he was also an experienced painter, and that he spent so much time in Paris, trying to perfect the art of paint and canvas, as well as paper and pen. Although he is not considered a "major master", he is considered one of the great american poets and has influenced the style of so many other poets, but i applaud you for bringing his artistic ability and his ideas to light. thanks :)