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Buffalo Bill's/ defunct -- e e cummings

Sorry people - somehow I postponed instead of sending this yesterday.

Guest poem sent in by Pavithra Krishnan
(Poem #139) Buffalo Bill's/ defunct
Buffalo Bill's
        defunct
               who used to
               ride a watersmooth-silver
                                        stallion
        and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
                                                         Jesus
        he was a handsome man
                             and what i want to know is
        how do you like your blueeyed boy
        Mister Death
-- e e cummings
cummings was perhaps one of the first poets to play around with the visual
impact of poetry on paper. with his airy disregard for the upper case
alphabet,
        daring line arrangements
andunusualpunctuation---- cummings ran the
Experimenter's risk of being labelled a gimmicks-guy.
'Buffalo Bill ' is one of cummings' better known pieces. a tribute to the
dead cowboy and folk legend, this poem is typical cummings. i love the way
he gives you this man's life in a few deceptively casual pen strokes, the
way his spacebar stops working just when he needs that non-stop effect, the
way he uses blank space to hold awe,reverence- and muted grief. the direct
address at the end is poignant. perfect.

Pavithra Krishnan.

31 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Michael McClain said...

It would be such a sad day, indeed, when such a tribute were cut from
the school board's approved curriculum for the vain use of the word
Jesus. Even EE capitalized it. GeeWhiz (Jesus?) Jeeeze (Jesus?)
Jeeperz (Jesus?)
May we all span such words for the impact of the whole...Mike McClain

SnolanRealtor said...

I read this once on stage in college, ca.1974, and it never left me. As I
grew older, these words grew stronger. Ahh...my mortality slips into view.
But I remembered it as ...fair-haired boy...

Thanks for the memories.

SPN

John Gascoyne said...

Yep - it was ...fair-haired boy... when the piece hit me over the head in the 60's at Colorado State Univesity.

Good catch.

johng

Peter Glick said...

We read this on day one in English 101 (1957). No one got it. Now it means
so much. Bill is "defunct" because he was so much more than a man; he was
an idea, an ideal, a movement, an era. A part of America is defunct; a
piece of our soul and our innocence is gone. Oh to believe again in
watersmooth-silver stallions. Mr. Death bit off more than he could chew.

Peter S. Glick

Anonymous said...

so many memories......so many F's

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The English Teacher's Blog said...

I like think of this poem as a sort of metaphor for the decline of the Old West. And with that decline a part of traditional way we view the American Dream is gone, too. That pioneering sense of adventure and ruggedness that Buffalo Bills represented died with him. As the nation moved to the cities for industrial jobs, then to the suburbs, we have become far detached from the ethos that made this country what it was once.

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