Edward Estlin Cummings: Contribution as American Poet

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      Edward Estlin Cummings, (1894-1962) commonly known as “e.e Cummings” which indicates the poet’s attempts to concentrate all objects into hard, separate words liberated from the usual hierarchies demanded by the normal usage. His mechanics of poetry macle him most controversial figure in the modern literary circles. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he was the son of a Harvard English professor who accepted the pastorate of old Britisher’s Old South Church in 1905. He remained in that position till 1926. Recognizing his father’s former employer, Cummings attended Harvard and received his B.A. degree in 1915 and his M.A. a year later.

      Like many other young contemporaries, he volunteered for ambulance service during the war. He served in France with small Norton Harjes Ambulance Corps. By the chilling error concerning censorship, he was indicted for treason and was imprisoned in French detention camp for several months. After release, he joined the United States Army. Mustered out, he returned to Paris two years after the war was over in order to study painting. All the while, he was writing and publishing occasional poems; his novel, The Enormous Room - Cununings’s account of his detention camp experiences and one of very best books to come out during the war. In the following year, he published Tulips and Chimneys (1923), his first volume of verse.

      Henceforth, Cummings was a full pledged poet. From the very beginning of his career, he experimented with syntax and typography made the center of raging debate. But in reality, he was only one member of his iconoclastic and radical literary generation. He wrote attractive, innovative verse distinguished for its humor, grace celebration of love and eroticism, and experimentation with punctuation and visual format on the page. A painter as he was, he was the first American poet to recognize that poetry had become primarily a visual, not an oral, at his poems, used much unusual spacing and indentation, as well as dropping all use of capital letters. Like Williams, Cummings also used colloquial language, sharp imagery, and words from popular culture. He took creative liberties with layout. His poem “In Just-” (1920) invites the reader to fill in the missing ideas. His lower-case typography was a deliberate attempt to allow words to assume a symbolic presence which would generate meanings. His subject matter and attitudes were sometimes seemed brutal and perhaps even shocking. However, some of his lyrics and love poems are among the most exquisite in the language. He will be remembered for his lyricism and also for his experimentation.

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