Thursday, September 11, 2014

Poems for September 11 -- CUMMINGS

E.E. Cummings ! and one poem by Pablo Neruda
by Cummings (first lines)
Unto Thee I
who are you,little i
may my heart always be open to little
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
one//t //his
(a// le
If you forget me — by Pablo Neruda

To prepare for the upcoming Fringe and special performance of Cummings in musical settings, I showed the loop that will be given before the performance. The first four Cummings poems are part of the CD. It is interesting to me to hear two different composers write different versions: for instance, both Joyce Hagen and Regina Baiocchi have written versions of "i carry your heart" and "i like my body". Baiocchi likes to give her own title, as Cummings usually doesn't have one. In the case of "i like my body" Hagan also gave her title, "so quite new" , whereas Baiocchi chose "love crumbs". Knowing that composers are interpreting the poems with their personal idea of lyrics is yet another step beyond discussing the poems in our group.

Both Christine Donkin and Hilary Tann wrote versions of "who are you little i"
which are quite different. I do hope you will come hear the music at the Fringe in the Sproull Atrium, Sat. Sept. 20 at 6 pm.
unto thee i : from Tulips published in 1922 in the section called Orientales

we noted the formal “Thee” and “thou” – sacred implications; the I and Thee could be inseparable. The poems feels bathed in softness with heavy alliteration of /f/s/l –
like a prayer rising as the poem trickles down the page. We noted line breaks
such as 3rd stanza, “...inhale the”
and the eye must travel before arriving on the word

Ending on the foreign word, as if landing in a mysterious land.

who are you little i – published 1963, in 73 poems, year after his death
Juxtapose the sound of long and short I:
I: i / night / high
i: six / window/ if

Elaine noted the cleverness of five (long I) or six (short I) – where the important first person as a child has nothing to do with the adult world. Mike noted how “i” is a pair of eyes peering .– Inside (in parentheses) the child knows a wonderful way of feeling not just what a sunset is, but an acceptance of day/having to become night – with so many more implications.
The bigness of little is held in a parenthesis!

may my heart always be open to little - published in 1938
Each line can be read alone by itself and then read again with the next line – so two simultaneous thoughts.
then slow down further.
May my heart always be open
to little
and suddenly the heart is addressing (the birds who are) the secrets of living.

Note how hungry and thirsty are separated by the positive, “fearless” and “supple”.
2nd line of last stanza: note how “much” is implied after so – if you have a break as you read the line it changes the meaning.

and love yourself so more than truly.
I don’t know if the 3rd stanza is zen – having the courage to let go to do nothing –
what is do nothing usefully?

i carry your heart with me - published in 1958
We read both stanza by stanza and with 2 voices – one within and one outside the parentheses. The doubling gives a strong feeling tone – almost possessive –
and the marvelous capacity of love that lies inside, and yet allows the stars the freedom to follow their own path in this interconnectedness.

The two vertical poems.

one//t is from Xaipe (which means rejoice in Greek) published in 1950.
The first and last word: one

the light in alighting, is lightened by floating, so both not heavy, but also a source of light. One this / is not a usual combination. One. This snowflake is upon a gravestone.
Where are the other snowflakes. Addresses the unicity of one. Preserves the unicity of the one under the grave. The gravest one. The more you decipher, the deeper it becomes.

l(a : published in 1958 – I apologize – the “l” was missing in the handout.

l (a leaf fall s) one l ness.
The two l’s, like I’s or ones, are separated by what’s in parentheses. one is followed by l,
which is not the same (1 is numeric, one is spelled). The loneliness heightened.

if you forget me:
I don’t know who the translator is, but it would be important, as Jim pointed out, to know.
We spoke of the psychological steeling one can do, so that if you are not longer with your loved one, (your beloved country, your beloved profession), it will be easier to accept the loss. Neruda cautions himself, anticipates, yet warns, giving a sense of both imminent separation, and hope.

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