Saturday, December 31, 2011

The End of 2011

by e.e. cummings

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

 may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
for even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

 and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

About six months before before I found Mr. Eliot's little book in the Bountiful library, I was browsing the poetry section and found the collection of e.e. cummings, a person I had been made aware of during a seventh grade English class as slightly off-kilter sort of guy who liked to mess with the rules.
I was fair excited when I found that book.
Winter was nearing its end that year, and I was looking for something to take me in a different direction. One's ninth grade year does that to a person. Edward Estlin did just that; his writing took me somewhere I imagine hip-hop mc's have been taking youth for a few decades now. I loved how he wrote with disregard for rules and grammar. His ideas were conveyed through words without the direction or distraction of punctuation or capitalization, and when he did use them, there was an ulterior motive behind it. My mind was free to wander the fields of his ideas, pausing and parsing when I wanted or thought necessary.
I didn't understand the adult world much at all. I thought adults had rational reasons for their actions for the most part, and when they didn't for much of a stretch, that's when they turned to crime, atrocities or other tomfoolery. I wasn't aware that they were rooting around for reasons and sanity as much as I was, or that the rules of the world were much like grammar; if you rose to an appropriate level of acceptance or standing, you could apply and ignore the rules as you wished, needed or saw fit.
At least Mr. cummings' work is beautiful and insightful in its disregard of conventions.

1 comment:

Amoniel said...

I haven't read much of E.E's work, but I do have a quote of his on my wall that I love ever-so-much. Funny that a high school/college English professor should like his, of all people's, poetry ;)