Welcome to E.E. Cummings* month.
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands
(E.E. Cummings, “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond.” ** 1931.)
The last line is my favorite. It is sort of aching and bittersweet because I find it beautiful but also sad in that I’m lonely. But here is why I like it. Drops of rain themselves are so small and simple and ought change nothing but in numbers and with insistence they can unstoppably drench everything around them and produce a deluge: that’s a great metaphor for love, which starts with such a small thing like a smile or a handshake and then increases itself even within minutes to become this powerful force that changes what your world was up until that point. Like rain. Does this make sense? I feel like I might have stopped making sense.
*I had always been put off by the lowercase “e.e. cummings” that you encounter in anthologies and the like because it seemed a little dramatic and juvenile, kind of put-on, but I’ve recently found that Cummings signed all his work “E.E. Cummings,” and used the capitalized form professionally and with his peers, and that the lowercase with which we are familiar was a result of several misconceptions at the publishing level which were given shockingly wide dissemination even after having been proven false.
There is a good and thorough story about it here, written by Norman Friedman, a writer, critic, and close friend of Cummings and his common-law wife, Marion Morehouse, which includes specific comments from Ms. Morehouse indicating her opinion that the widespread use of her deceased’s husband’s name in lowercase was inaccurate idiocy and asking her friend to intercede with the publishers to remove factual errors from the preface about him having legally changed his name to “e.e. cummings” and have it capitalized on the spine and jacket as well as within. Mr. Friedman wrote a follow-up article three years later, voicing his distress that the error has not been widely corrected and calling the inaccurate lowercase usage “cutesy-pooh” and “pure nonsense.”
Mr. Friedman also uncovered in the years between the two articles a request from an editor while Cummings was alive asking in what case to set Cummings’ name on a book cover: how should it appear? because he understood the poet to prefer a lack of capitals. Cummings replied, quote, “E.E. Cummings.” Done deal in my book.
At any rate, I’m so glad to shake off of him the dust of what I had always feared was pretentiousness! So I’m capping his name all month and have retconned*** past lowercase usage into uppercase, is the main thing.
**Untitled works — and Cummings seldom used titles — are referred to by their opening line.
***Retcon: retroactive continuity, a term used mainly in comics and speculative fiction which I explained in better detail in my Music Moment entry on Julie Nunes.