Tuesday, October 14, 2008

buffalo bill and edward estlin

Today's birthday belongs (or belonged) to poet and general free-spirit-at-large Edward Estlin Cummings, better known as e.e. He was born on October 14, 1894 and died in 1962; he was a Harvard boy, then spent time driving an ambulance during World War I. Cummings was also held in a French detention camp during WWI for three months, this experience bringing about his novel The Enormous Room. Cummings was a gifted artist as well and quite skilled at painting and drawing, and of course he was one of the first poets to deliberately ignore things like capitalization and putting spaces between words. One of my favorite stories about EEC is how he was a neighbor of writer Djuna Barnes in Greenwich Village during the 1950s, and while he respected Djuna's reclusive tendencies, he also wanted to make sure she was okay and would yell "Are you still alive, Djuna?" out the window every now and then. This is one of my favorite Cummings poems, but since he liked to play around with line placement, it's difficult to blog-format it exactly as it should be:


Buffalo Bill's
who used to
ride a watersmooth-silver
and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
he was a handsome man
and what i want to know is
how do you like your blueeyed boy
Mister Death