E.E. Cummings = Holden Caulfield?

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In Was E.E. Cummings the Holden Caulfield of American Poetry? (The Washington Free Beacon, August 13, 2016) Micah Mattix has some good things to say about how “A ‘complete’ or ‘collected’ poems can do things for a poet,” mentioning the collected works of Sylvia Plath, Wallace Stevens, Allen Ginsberg, and others.  Mattix also tells of how in his introduction to the third volume of E.E. Cumming’s Complete Poems, Stephen Dunn

writes that Cummings was “the Holden Caulfield of American poetry.” That’s partly right. Cummings’s two great interests were sex and sex—at least in the first part of his life….

When he’s not lusty, he’s angry—at “humanity,” at the war, at the stupidity of the “clean upstanding well dressed” boys, at the ladies of Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Humanity i love you,” he writes in “La Guerre,” but he doesn’t, as becomes clear in the next line: “because you would rather black the boots of / success than enquire whose soul dangles from his / watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both.” People are greedy, self-serving, proud, and Cummings hates it. He adds a little self-deprecating sugar in the final lines to make this bitter pill of a poem go down a little smoother (“Humanity…you are / forever making poems in the lap / death Humanity // i hate you”), but it’s not very subtle.

————

buy me an ounce and i’ll sell you a pound…. (27)

e.e. cummings

buy me an ounce and i'll sell you a pound.
Turn
gert
    (spin!
helen)the
slimmer the finger the thicker the thumb(it's
whirl,
girls)
round and round

Read rest of poem at The Plagiarist Poetry Archive

 

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