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what if a much of a which of a wind -- e e cummings

Guest poem submitted by Pavithra Krishnan:
(Poem #769) what if a much of a which of a wind
 what if a much of a which of a wind
 gives the truth to summer's lie;
 bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun
 and yanks immortal stars awry?
 Blow king to beggar and queen to seem
 (blow friend to fiend: blow space to time)
 -when skies are hanged and oceans drowned,
 the single secret will still be man

 what if a keen of a lean wind flays
 screaming hills with sleet and snow:
 strangles valleys by ropes of thing
 and stifles forests in white ago?
 Blow hope to terror; blow seeing to blind
 (blow pity to envy and soul to mind)
 -whose hearts are mountains, roots are trees,
 it's they shall cry hello to the spring

 what if a dawn of a doom of a dream
 bites this universe in two,
 peels forever out of his grave
 and sprinkles nowhere with me and you?
 Blow soon to never and never to twice
 (blow life to isn't; blow death to was)
 -all nothing's only our hugest home;
 the most who die, the more we live
-- e e cummings
An extremely explanationless poet (the e. e. was no accident :)). I don't
level that as an accusation. I lay it down as a tribute. When meaning darts
in and out of a poem the way it does when you're with cummings, the
elusiveness doesn't irritate... it enchants and intrigues(in the very best
way possible). cummings has figured on this list before, several times [1].
And while it's relatively easy to familiarize oneself with the sheer drama
of his innovation and his audacious powers of invention... it's a little
more difficult to stop being surprised by him. cummings is such an
inexhaustibly lively poet. And this is a poem of crazy, sweeping whatifs. A
poem brimful of lines that make music for you before (if ever) they make
sense. I love the way the verses are built. Beginning with a vivid riddle,
spiralling into a two-line almost-incantation, closing each, with something
wise, glinting... and enigmatic. What is curious to me, about this poem, is
the way it _compels_ -- combining a playfulness of tone, grammar and rhyme,
with a series of merciless, even cruel images and ideas. There is a strange
violence here. An impartial, indifferent violence that spares nothing, no
one. Not monarchs or mountains, the stars or the elements, not space and
time or you and me. Nowhere in evidence here is the delicate, crystal-veined
fragility that cummings is so excruciatingly capable of ("nobody, not even
the rain, has such small hands" [2]). But while this is not a tremulous
poem, neither is it irredeemably harsh. Because there is something
inconquerable inside of it. Something in the 'single secret', the 'cry
hello' and 'the more we live' that seems to convey a spirit transcending the
violence of vocabulary, a wisdom beyond ordinary compassion. Maybe I'm way
off track here. Highly possible. It's hard to tell with cummings...

... all I truly know is that I really like the voice of his sound.

Pavi.

[1] See, for instance:
Poem #56, "pity this busy monster, manunkind"
Poem #139, "Buffalo Bill's/ defunct"
Poem #214, "Where's Madge then,"
Poem #311, "Untitled"
Poem #454, "If I have made, my lady, intricate"
Poem #492, "Poem 42"
Poem #619, "somewhere i have never travelled"
on the Minstrels website.

[2] The last line of the bewitchingly beautiful love poem "somewhere i have
never travelled", Poem #619 on the Minstrels website.

8 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

pamandlex said...

When I first read this poem in 1970, I thought nuclear annihilation was on
the agenda.

Now global warming may suffice.

For the truth in summer's lie may be that warm days will never cease.

Lex Miller

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