e. e. cummings and other greenwich village trivia

e.e. cummings

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in anticipation of our upcoming kornblit walking tour to greenwich village that features poets, writers, political activists, and a host of other legendary sites; i will write this blog post in all lower case letters, as a shout out to the non-conventional trademark that e.e. cummings has made famous.

during our walking tour, we will visit the house e.e. cummings lived in while in greenwich village. we step into a small gated haven once popular with writers and artists offering quiet and privacy, not to mention beauty, called patchin place. The plaque on the house commemorates his stay in greenwich village and his life and work. e.e. cummings is one of those prolific writers that, once you learn about him, begins to pop up everywhere. for example, i’m currently reading an autobiography about steve martin called born standing up (my book club book of the month). martin writes about his days at long beach state college in california. in this period martin is educating himself in the arts, logic, metaphysics, and ethics. This is an introspective period for martin, early in his life when he is just figuring out how to be a comedian. he says this about e.e. cummings:

“i was enamored of the rhythmic poetry of e.e. cummings, and a tantalizing quote from one of his recorded lectures stayed in my head. when asked why he became a poet, he said, ‘like the burlesque comedian, i am abnormally fond of that precision which creates movement.’

That line, (says martin), “with its intriguing reference to comedy was enigmatic, and it took me ten years to work out its meaning.”

steve kornblit likes to quote e.e. cummings’s more romantic side. while standing in front of his former home in patchin place, he will recite this poem by e.e. cummings to our group, (but he is really speaking to me) .….

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

[from “i carry your heart with me 1952]

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