E. E. Cummings Poetry: American Poets Analysis
Since E. E. Cummings rarely used titles, all those poems without titles will be identified by reference to the Index of First Lines in Complete Poems, 1913-1962. An analysis of Cummings’s poetry turns, for the most part, on judgments about his innovative, highly idiosyncratic versification. Some of Cummings’s critics have thought his techniques to be not only cheap and shallow tricks but also ultimately nonpoetic. There was, from the early stages of his career, general agreement about his potential as a lyric and satiric poet. As that career developed through his middle and late periods, negative criticism of his verse diminished as affirmation grew. Although there always will be dissenting voices, the consensus for some time has been that his innovative verse techniques and his lyric and satiric talents were successfully blended in the best of his work.
Cummings wrote both free verse and conventional verse, particularly in the form of quatrains and sonnets. He also imposed on conventional verse the combination of typographical eccentricities and grammatical and syntactical permutations that constitute his distinctive hallmark. There is a considerable range between his most extreme free-verse poems, where the hallmark is superimposed, and his most conventional sonnets, where the hallmark is barely discernible. An example of the extreme is his “grasshopper” poem, “r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r,”...
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