Friday, November 11, 2005

"what if a much of a which of a wind" analysis by Jeff Reed

Reading E. E. Cummings' poems is like watching a child and thinking back to your early years. You vaguely remember specific events, but what you really remember are the strong emotions you felt; the first time you felt joy, the first time you felt wonder, and the first time you felt sorrow. E. E. Cummings captures these emotions in his poems, creating variations on words and syntax, filling in the gaps that are left by modern language. Some might assume that he was uneducated, but this couldn't be farther from the truth. In fact, he received his B.A. in 1915 and his M.A. in 1916, both from Harvard.(http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/156) In his lifetime he wrote many poems, but I have decided to focus on "what if a much of a which of a wind"
"what if a much of a which of a wind" is divided into 3 different stanzas that each describe one aspect of humanity. The first stanza describes Time, and the effects it has on the destruction and change of the natural world, even the stars, but also assures us that the infinite complexity and Uniqueness of man's soul can never be unraveled. The second stanza describes shattered hopes and dreams, using words like "strangling" and "stifled" to describe dreams that were never completed. However, the final line, which says "it's they shall cry hello to spring", gives us hope that better times will come, as they always do. The final stanza describes the idea of nothingness. In this nothingness in nowhere, life, death, and time are both nonexistent and infinite at the same time. The final line "the most who die, the more we live", makes me think that this nothingness could be an afterlife, or afterdeath, where souls exist (or cease to exist) in nothingness (or infinity).
The themes of poetry are important, but the rhythm, imagery, and tone are really what make poetry enjoyable to read. E. E. Cummings creates many vivid images in his poem, such as "bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun", which creates an image of twirling leaves and a blood red sun. He also uses unique word combinations like "a white ago", along with conventional word usage like "strangles", "screaming", and "stifles" to create an image of destructin. THe images he creates help to set the tone, which I interpret as being a wondering tone, pondering on ideas of time, hope, life, death, infinity, and nothingness. The rhythm of theof poem is what really captures you the first time you read it. It just rolls off your tongue and into your soul. When I read this, I feel like I am in the storm of destruction, but just a witness, not affecting the destruction of the universe, or being affected by it. I wonder if that is how he felt when he wrote the poem, and this is what I would ask him I I ever got the chance.
Although the ideas that Cummings wrote about are complicated, his writing was not. He expressed his feeling and ideas in a raw form, not shaped or refind. As John Arthos put it, "E. E. Cummings is one on the few modern poets who writes about things simply". (Contemporary Literary Criticism, 146) Although some might say that interpreting feelings into correct grammar and syntax is like a refiner's fire that burns out impurities, Cummings would call this "refiner's fire" emotional arson. E. E. Cummings need for expressing his feelings in a pure form led to his embracing of "Imagist manifesto guidelines that allowed him to experiment and to break old rules". (Elements of Literature, 796). E. E. Cummings poems were not originally written in English, they were merely translated from the language of the soul.
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