ee cummings

Third in this week’s fandom series is the tribute on American poet Edward Estlin Cummings. October 14, 1894 – September 3, 1962 

Those who know me well, know of my love of poetry. I read poetry, I write poetry. In my opinion, poetry is food for the soul. 

EE Cummings wrote poetry of love, eroticism, political satires and everyday life (drunks, prostitutes, cafes, Salvation Army workers) during a time when it was unpopular to do so. Although his poetic technique is known for its unusual lyric free form; using the rhythms of common speech rather than metrical regularity, avoiding wornout dictation, using verbs as nouns, omitting punctuation marks and utilising lowercase letters to depict meaning (his use of lowercase “i” was his self-depiction as a man unnoticed, downtrodden, a dreamer), he was actually quite traditional, usually using modern twists on sonnet structure. 

He was born in Massachusetts in 1894. His Dad was a professor at Harvard and his Mum fostered his love of literature early on, regularly reading him poetry. He wrote his first poem when he was three:
“Oh,the pretty birdie,O;/with his little toe,toe,toe!” 

After graduating from Cambridge and then Harvard in 1916 he enlisted in the US Army to fight in WWI, spending a brief period imprisoned in France for suspicion of espionage. Here he wrote his first book The Enormous Room. Later, he studied art in Paris, worked for Vanity Fair in New York, married three times, travelled throughout Europe, had one daughter named Nancy. He was deeply affected by his father’s sudden death by a gruesome train accident in 1926.
see “my father moved through dooms of love,” which is a profoundly moving tribute. 

I am a huge fan of his odd typography and punctuation combined with the whimsical romanticism and satire. My two favourite poems being: 

I carry you in my heart (I carry it in my heart)
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it
(anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling) 

i fear no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet)
i want no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;
which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
 i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart) 

 *** 

you said Is
there anything which
is dead or alive more beautiful
than my body, to have in your fingers
(trembling ever so little)? 

                           Looking into
your eyes Nothing, i said, except the
air of spring smelling of never and forever. 

….and through the lattice which moved as
if a hand is touched by a
hand (which
moved as though
fingers touch a girl’s
breast, lightly) 

        Do you believe in always,the wind
said to the rain
I am too busy with
my flowers to believe, the rain answered 

*** 

He published 15 poetic works during his lifetime and 2 posthumously. The more well known being Tulips and Chimneys (1923), is 5 (1926), Collected Poems (1960) and 95 Poems (1958). He was also a Playwright, publishing 4 Plays, as well as many articles for various magazines and literary organisations. In the 1950s he took positions at various universities reading poetry and undertook a lectureship at Harvard for a couple of years.
He died in at the age of 67 in New Hampshire. But his spirit lives on through his prose.
ee cummings

Researched from Wikipedia, Notable Biographies.com, American National Biography Online & American Poems.com

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the prince of mist

I expected big things from this book by one of my favourite authors Carlos Ruiz Zafon, author of The Shadow of the Wind and Angel’s Game.  I am mesmerised from the very first page.

Book translations to English aren’t always good, but with CRZ he’s got a really great translator (Lucia Graves) who has taken his original Spanish and understands the words on the page as well as their poetic prose and greater meaning.

The book has a foreword letter from Zafon, thanking readers & fans of his popular Shadow of the Wind novel (15 million copies sold) and gives the background for his writing of The Prince of Mist, which was actually his first novel back in 1992 and was aimed at young adults, but can transcend age groups and be enjoyed by all readers.

Max Carver is the story’s protagonist. He is 13 and has moved from Barcelona to a small picturesque beach town with his family (eccentric watchmaker and inventor Dad, gentle caring Mum, animal loving younger sister and sultry older sister) at the beginning of WWII. Max and his sisters soon start to experience strange happenings, seemingly related to their new house’s previous owners whose 8 yo son mysteriously drowned some years before; Strange dreams, creepy life-sized statues in their overgrown garden and whispers from the walls. Max and his older sister Alicia befriend a local boy and the three of them set off on a course to explain the mysterious and supernatural happenings.

At times I am frightened, but I am utterly immersed in this story and the characters. The writing is beautiful; well structured with an etherial, mesmerizing and at times eerie feel.

“He loved the sound of the rain and the water rushing down the guttering along the edge of the roof. Whenever it poured like this, Max felt as it time was pausing. It was like a ceasefire during which you could stop whatever you were doing and just stand by a window for hours, watching the performance, an endless curtain of tears falling from heaven.”

“Looking back, he felt as if every one of those years was like a heavy stone, weighing him down…The phantoms of the past had awoken from a sleep of many years, and were once again haunting the corridors of his mind.”

Most young adult fiction I’ve read is middle-of-the-road pleasing but generically dull – all about teen angst and romance, something you read to pass the time. But with The Prince of Mist Zafon assumes more of a teenage young adult reader. At the core of the story there are themes of Evil & Retribution, Friendship and the Illusion of Time. Greek mythology is also hinted (and I love Greek Mythology!).

You won’t have to invest a great deal of time in it, at 202 pages, it didn’t take long to read – I finished it in a few quiet hours. I definitely recommend it!

“…the memory…of that summer in which they had discovered magic together would stay with them, uniting them forever.”