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ee cummings

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 8 months ago

                            EE Cummings









about the poet


     Edward Estlin Cummings was born on October 14, 1894 in Cambridge Massachusetts to Edward Cummings and Rebecca Haswell Clarke.  His father taught at Harvard and was also a minister.  From the time he was young, his parents encouraged him to develop his creative gifts and his mother even encouraged him to write and keep a journal.  Cummings attended Cambridge public schools and then went to Harvard.  While at Harvard he enjoyed poetry, writing and painting.  Some of his poems were published in the Harvard periodicals.  He graduated from Harvard with his Masters Degree in 1916.  In 1917 his poems were published in the book Eight Harvard Poets.  That same year, he joined Norton-Haries Ambulance Corps.  While in the Corps. he became friends with William Slater Brown and they were both arrested for suspicion of espionage because of the letters that Brown wrote home.  They were released from the concentration camp after four months and sent home, but they remained best friends.  Shortly thereafter, E.E. Cummings was drafted into the army where he served until November, 1918.  He met his first wife, Elaine Orr, that same year.  They were married in 1924, and they had one child, Nancy.  The marriage didn't last long and after their divorce, Elaine remarried and moved to Ireland with Nancy and prevented E.E. Cummings from seeing his daughter.  In 1929 he married Anne Barton, and they were also divorced.  Both divorces had a bad impact on his life.  In 1934, he met Marion Morehouse and she lived with him as his common-law wife.  In 1946 E.E. Cummings was reunited with his daughter, Nancy, after many years with no contact.  He lived with Marion Morehouse, his common-law wife, until his death on September 3, 1962.




his style


     In college, E.E. Cummings followed the principles of poet Ezra Pound.  However, by 1918 he had created his own poetic style.  He broke up words and presented them in a new way.  In his poems, he didn't use punctuation or capitalization.  Capitals were used only for special emphasis.  Punctuation marks were used only for a shock effect.  He was also noted for the use of the lowercase letter "i" in his poems.  E.E. Cummings was well known for his scrambled words and array of hidden messages. To unlock his messages that are hidden behind his brilliant use of figurative language, you must carefully read between the lines of his poetry.  All of his work is brilliant, and different from any other poet.  E.E. Cummings taok the meaning of the word rational to a whole new level.  His work looks like random words and phrases thrown together, and the reader must stop and think beyond the written text.  E.E. Cummings was a different breed of poet.  He used his unconventional, yet brilliant style to send a message to the reader.  In his work, E.E. Cummings didn't use capital letters, proper punctuation, or proper grammar.  He used this to his advantage in mixing the message into the poem. He deliberatley confused the reader by having them follow the winding paths of words he had created because he felt that a straight one would narrow the reader's mind. He was especially popular among young readers.




some of his work


  • as freedom is a breakfastfood
  • farward
  • you in love
  • my mind is
  • between the breasts
  • love is a place
  • in a middle of a room
  • Tulips and Chimneys 
  • The Enormous Room (first book written about his experience in the concentration camp)


His first book of poetry was Tulips and Chimneys.


One of the poems from Tulips and Chimneys was called tumbling hair and looked like this:



              picker of buttercups



And the big bullying daisies

                             through the field wonderful

with eyes a little sorry

Another comes

              also picking flowers



Brief interpretation of this poem:  A little girl is in a field picking different kinds of flowers.  Initially she is happy and having a great time, but then another little girl appears and also starts picking the same flowers, which makes her sad.  This shows a great example of metonymy because little girl is substituted by "tumbling hair". 

The Enormous Room was the first book written by E.E. Cummings and was based on his experience in the detention camp

Both of these helped make him a celebrity. 







  • American Poets Fellowship
  • 2 Guggenheim Fellowships
  • Charles Eliot Norton Professorship at Harvard
  • Bollingen Prize in Poetry in 1958
  • Ford Foundation grant


At the time of his death, he was the second most widely read poet in the United States, after Robert Frost.







1894 EDWARD ESTLIN CUMMINGS ("Estlin") is born October 14 in family residence 104 Irving Street, Cambridge, Mass., the son of EDWARD and REBECCA CLARKE CUMMINGS. His energetic, versatile, and highly articulate father teaches sociology and political science at Harvard in the 1890's and in 1900 is ordained minister of the South Congregational Church, Unitarian, in Boston. The Irving Street household will include at various times Grandmother Cummings, MISS JANE CUMMINGS ("Aunt Jane"), EEC's maternal uncle, GEORGE CLARKE, and younger sister ELIZABETH ("Elos"), who eventually marries Carlton Qualey. EEC attends Cambridge public schools, vacations in Maine and at the family summer home, Joy Farm, in Silver Lake, N.H. "Ever since I can remember I've written; & painted or made drawings."
1911 Enters Harvard College, specializing in Greek and other languages He contributes poems to Harvard periodicals, is exposed to the work of EZRA POUND and other modernist writers and painters, and forms lasting friendships with JOHN DOS PASSOS ("Dos"), R. STEWART MITCHELL ("The Great Awk"), EDWARD NAGLE (stepson of the sculptor Gaston Lachaise), SCOFIELD THAYER ("Sco"), JAMES SIBLEY WATSON ("Sib"), S. FOSTER DAMON, GILBERT SELDES, M. R. WERNER ("Morrie"), JOSEPH FERDINAND GOULD ("Joe"), ROBERT HILLYER.
1915 Graduates magna cum laude; delivers commencement address on "The New Art."
1916 Receives MA from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
1917 In New York. Lives at 21 East 15th Street with the painter ARTHUR WILSON ("Tex"). Works for P. F. Collier & Son. In April joins Norton-Haries Ambulance Corps. Sails for France on La Touraine, meeting on board another Harjes-Norton recruit, WILLIAM SLATER BROWN, who will remain his lifelong friend. After several weeks in Paris EEC and Brown are assigned to ambulance duty on Noyon sector. Brown's letters home arouse suspicions of French army censor. On September 21, he is arrested together with Cummings, who refuses to dissociate himself from his friend. Both are sent to [the] concentration camp at La Ferte Mace, where they submit to further interrogation. Following strenuous efforts on his father's part, EEC is released December 19. Eight Harvard Poets published, with EEC among contributors.
1918 Arrives in New York from France January 1. Moves with W. Slater Brown to 11 Christopher Street. Drafted during summer; stationed at Camp Devens until his discharge following Armistice. Moves with Brown to 9 West 14th Street, New York. Meets Elaine Orr, whom he will later marry and who is the mother of his only child, Nancy ("Mopsy"), now Mrs. Kevin Andrews. The marriage will end in divorce.
1920 In New York. Works seriously at his painting. Friendship with GASTON LACHAISE. First number of the new Dial, owned by Scofield Thayer and J. Sibley Watson, with R. Stewart Mitchell as managing editor, comes out in January. Other friends connected with The Dial at various times and in various capacities: PAUL ROSENFELD, music critic; HENRY McBRIDE, art critic; GILBERT SELDES, MARIANNE MOORE, KENNETH BURKE, EDMUND WILSON. On his father's urging, EEC begins, in September, to write The Enormous Room, an account of his and Brown's experiences in the La Ferte Mace prison.
1921 Travels to Portugal and Spain with Dos Passos, then to Paris, which remains his European headquarters for the next two years. Friends made during these years include EZRA POUND, HART CRANE, JOHN PEALE BISHOP, LEWIS GALANTIERE, GORHAM B. MUNSON, MALCOLM COWLE, ARCHIBALD MacLEISH.
1922 In Rapallo and Rome during early summer; meets parents in Venice in late summer. The Enormous Room published in mutilalated version by Boni and Liveright, New York.
1923 Summer at Guethary, France. Back in New York in autumn, moves to 4 Patchin Place, which remains his New York address until his death. Tulips and Chimneys published.
1924 In Paris on first of several short trips he makes to Europe during the later twenties.
1925 Wins Dial Award- Begins to write and draw for Vanity Fair. & and XLI Poems published.
1926 His father killed in an accident. is 5 published.
1927 Marries Anne Barton; this marriage also ends in divorce. Him published.
1928 Him produced in New York by Provincetown Players, April 18, James Light, director.
1930 [No Title] published.
1931 Trip to Russia. CIOPW, a book of pictures in Charcoal, Ink, Oil, Pastel, and Watercolors published. Viva published. First show of his paintings, in New York.
1932 Meets and soon marries Marion Morehouse, well known as model, actress, and photographer. Henceforth they are rarely apart. New York exhibition of his watercolors.
1933 Trip to Europe. Visit to Tunisia. Guggenheim Fellowship. Eimi, an account of his trip to Russia in 1931, published.
1935 Travels to Mexico in June and to California in July. no thanks and Tom published.
1936 1/20 [One over twenty] published. A selection of twenty poems, the first volume of his poems to be published in England.
1937 Trip to France.
1938 Collected Poems published.
1940 50 Poems published.
1944 1 X 1 published. Show of oils and watercolors at the American British Art Gallery in New York.
1945 Show of oils, watercolors, and sketches in Rochester.
1946 Santa Claus published. Special EEC number of Harvard Wake.
1947 His mother dies in January
1948 Show of watercolors and oils at the American British Art Gallery.
1950 Academy of American Poets fellowship. Trip to France, Italy and Greece. XAIPE published.
1951 Guggenheim fellowship. Death of Aunt Jane: a small inheritance.
1952 Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard. Lectures published in 1953 as i:six nonlectures.
1954 Poems 1923-1954 published.
1956 Trip to Spain, Italy, and France.
1957 Gives Boston Arts Festival poetry reading in Public Gardens, June 23.
1958 Bollingen Prize in Poetry. A Miscellany (a collection of fugitive pieces) and 95 Poems published.
1961 Trip to Italy, Greece, and France.
1962 Collapses of cerebral hemorrhage at Joy Farm and dies on September 3, at 1:15 A.M. Adventures in Value, photographs by Marion Morehouse with text by EEC, published.
1963 73 Poems published.
1965 Miscellany Revised (an expanded edition of the 1958 volume) published. Fairy Tales, illustrated by John Eaton, published.



 sources cited


"e e cummings Biographical Timeline." e e cummings Biography. 24 Oct. 2007. http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/8454/bio.htm?200724


"E. E. Cummings." Poets.org - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More - E. E. Cummings. 29 Oct. 2007. http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/156


Everett,Nicholas & Kennedy,Richard S. "E.E. Cumming's Life." Modern American Poetry. Feb. 2000. 29 Oct. 2007.  





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