Edward Estlin Cummings: Literary Revolutionist

(14 Oct. 1894 - 3 Sept. 1962)

(a young E. E. Cummings)


E. E. Cummings was a famous American poet, writer, and painter in the 19th century. He is regarded by many as a literary revolutionist.(Everett) He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His parents supported his creativity and encouraged his creativity. He attended Harvard University for his higher education. In 1917, during the First World War, he volunteered to serve in the Norton-Harjes Ambulance group in France.(Everett) He later wrote a book based on his experiences during France. When he was released back to the states, he was drafted by the Army, where he served until November of 1918.(Everett) Shortly afterwards he published his first collection of poetry, “Tulips and Chimneys”. Both were met with success in the states, making him a sort of “celebrity”(Everett). One of the reasons he is still analyzed to this day, is the way in which he wrote his poems. He used his own style of grammar, and did not conform to the typical outlines with which poets have been using for centuries.

Writing Style & Themes

Throughout History, most poetry has conformed to a set of pre-defined guidelines. A rhyme scheme, a defined length, and a certain number of syllables are just a few examples of different types of rules that certain poems have to abide by. This was no different in the time of E. E. Cummings. However, E. E. Cummings had a different poetic style. He practically invented his own grammar for many of his poems. A good example of his grammar style can be found in his short poem entitled “l(a”(Landles):






We can clearly see that his style of writing is unique, and adhered only to what he wanted it to. His unique style of writing is a main reason he is still revered and studied to this day, and will more than likely continue to be one of history’s most successful poets.


Cummings’ wrote about many things, but there are a few definite reoccurring themes. He wrote about life, love, and death. Much of his work is about love. From reading his poetry, you can tell that Cummings was a very romantic person. Most of his poetry is about women, and he usually refers to “my love” specifically. (Firmage) One of his most famous poems, and a popular source for a tattoo, is “I carry your heart with me(I carry it in”(Firmage):

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear
no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

This is a widely popular poem and it is one of many romantic poems that he wrote. In his “Complete Poems 1904-1962”, there are 24 sonnets alone. This does not include the countless other poems about love, but just the sonnets he wrote specifically. He also writes extensively about life and death. However, when writing about death, he is seldom gloomy. It appears he understands death in a much deeper sense than most. He knows it is coming, and sees it as a natural part of life. Two lines from “when god lets my body be” (Firmage) are a perfect example of his outlook on death:

when god lets my body be
From each brave eye shall sprout a tree

He writes about life almost the same way as he writes about death, in that both should be thought of in the most optimistic way possible.



Cummings was an artist as well as a poet. He painted many works of art and they are now collector’s items. (Lopez) He had several reoccurring themes in his paintings as well as his poetry. Cummings particularly liked to paint pictures of Mount Chocorua and nude portraits of women. It is obvious from reading his poetry that Cummings was very much in love with women, but Mount Chocorua has a special meaning. It was visible from his family farm when he was a child, and it is the place of his death. (Brockport)


Literary Revolutionist

In many ways, Cummings was an inspiration. He lived during a very turbulent time period. During his life time, he saw the Great Depression, WWI, and WWII. Despite all of these terrible events, he still wrote beautiful poetry about life and about love. Cummings has also inspired many poets. He did not conform to traditional beliefs about the structure of poetry. He thought of poetry as an art form. E. E. Cummings has developed a strong following, and his poems are read in high school and college courses. However, despite being a celebrated poet, critics have never been too fond of his work. His subject matter and “eccentric” grammar have always been a cause for criticism. Critics have dismissed his poetry as “sentimental and politically naïve.” Cummings left this world having written hundreds of poems in over ten different poetry collection books, two plays, a ballet, and two novels.

Works Cited

Web Sources
Everett, Nicholas. "E. E. Cummings' Life." Department of English, University of Illinois. Web. 03 May 2011. <http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/cummings/cummings_life.htm>.

Landles, Iain. "An Analysis of Two Poems." Grand Valley State University. Web. 03 May 2011. <http://www.gvsu.edu/english/cummings/issue10/Landles10.html>.

Cummings, E. E., and George James. Firmage. Complete Poems, 1904-1962. New York: Liveright, 1991. Print.

"The Paintings of E.E. Cummings." Ken Lopez - Bookseller: The Paintings of E. E. Cummings. Web. 03 May 2011. <http://www.eecummingsart.com/gallery/>.

"E.E. Cummings Gallery." The College at Brockport: State University of New York. Web. 03 May 2011. <http://www.brockport.edu/cummings/img_and_data1.php?id=19>.

Image Sources

Young Picture of Cummings

Complete Works of Cummings

Study After El Greco

Small Mt. Chocorua With Long Cloud

Melissa Carpenter’s review of Robert Smith’s wiki page
Robert, you have a lot of interesting facts about the author. You really need to concentrate on having more structure and organization to your page.
You made mention that Cummings is a poet, writer and painter. You could actually organize your page based off these three talents. You could put these three talents into three separate sections. Be careful not to talk too much about the author and focus on the literary work and/or key literary term. Tell the reader something about his works that would draw them to read or look deeper into his paintings.
I understand this is a draft but I do not see any reference as to where your facts came from. Lastly, you may want to play around and read some of the instructions wikispaces gives you on creating your space.