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Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy Birthday E. E. Cummings

Edward Estlin Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on October 14, 1894--Happy 117th birthday! As with so many 20th century literary figures, Cummings comes to the Rosenbach through the Marianne Moore collection. Moore initially met Cummings in the 1920s through her friends Hildegard & Sibley Watson; Sibley was President of The Dial magazine and a college friend of Cummings.

Moore admired Cummings's visual art as well as his poetry and Rosen-friends are undoubtedly familiar with the yellow rose painting he gave her which now hangs in the Marianne Moore room (click here to see it in our online catalog). Cummings gave the rose painting to Moore in 1938 and it was probably painted with her poem Injudicious Gardening in mind. In this poem, first published in 1915, Moore had challenged the idea of yellow roses as a traditional sign of infidelity. The theme had presented itself to her after she read the letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning--Robert's first flowers to Elizabeth were yellow, which he promised to rectify by planting a dozen white.

You can see other examples of Cummings's painting, including another yellow rose, in the Hildegarde Lasell Watson Collection of Artworks by E. E. Cummings at the College at Brockport.

After Cummings's death in 1962, Marianne Moore wrote a commemorative essay, in which, among other things, she admired Cummings's economy of expression. With that in mind, we will aim for brevity and sign off here.

1 comment:

M. Merritt said...

Your comments on E. E. Cummings are much appreciated. As one of the true ground-breakers in Modern American Poetry, I feel he often fails to get the recognition he deserves. His innovative writing style was just one part of his unique gift for expressing his views on life, love, society, politics and religion.

Check out our 2012 Wall Calendar commemorating this great poet at: -
and our video of his poem, "i am a little church" on YouTube.