E. E. Cummings

Edward Estlin Cummings (known as E. E. Cummings or e. e. cummings) was not only a poet, but also a successful essayist, playwright, author, and painter. One of the most remarkable features of his career was his ability to achieve popularity while also making great literary strides.

Photo: E. E. Cummings, 1933, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Digital ID: cph 3c11603

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About

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cummings grew up in an intellectual household. His father was a Harvard professor of sociology and political science, and his mother was a great lover of literature, often reading poetry to Cummings and his younger sister Elizabeth. The household also promoted openness in religion, as Cummings’ father was a Unitarian minister, which lead Cummings to display transcendentalist views through his writings.

Cummings earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Harvard University between the years 1911 and 1916, studying English and Classical Studies. His first introduction to the influential works of Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound came through his studies at Harvard as well. In 1917, Cummings had his first published poems in the anthology Eight Harvard Poets (though he had been writing poetry since age 3). That same year, he volunteered as an ambulance driver in France, and through his experiences abroad, he fell in love with Paris. He also was interned in a prison camp, due to his vocal anti-war sentiments, and his experiences there became his first novel The Enormous Room (1922). Cummings’ first book of poetry was Tulips & Chimneys in 1923, though the first publisher disregarded Cumming’s desire for an ampersand and titled the work Tulips and Chimneys. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Cummings traveled often, especially to Paris, and came to admire the work of Pablo Picasso greatly. The death of Cummings’ father (in a car accident in 1926) had a great influence on his writings, with a focus on deeper aspects of life. Cummings was married three times, received many prestigious grants and fellowships throughout his life (including the Guggenheim Fellowship twice), and was awarded an honorary seat as guest professor at Harvard University. Through this honor, Cummings gave his The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures (1952 and 1955), currently collected in i: six nonlectures.

Poets.org gives an excellent summary of Cummings’ poetic achievements: “In his work, Cummings experimented radically with form, punctuation, spelling and syntax, abandoning traditional techniques and structures to create a new, highly idiosyncratic means of poetic expression. Later in his career, he was often criticized for settling into his signature style and not pressing his work towards further evolution. Nevertheless, he attained great popularity, especially among young readers, for the simplicity of his language, his playful mode and his attention to subjects such as war and sex.”

–Christie Finn

Related Information

Videos

Books

E. E. Cummings: Complete Poems, 1904-1962

By E. E. Cummings

The Enormous Room

By E. E. Cummings

i: six nonlectures (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures)

By E. E. Cummings

Songs

An E. E. Cummings Songbook

Song Collection

Daniel Asia

E. E. Cummings

as is the sea marvelous

John Musto

E. E. Cummings

Song Collection: Viva Sweet Love

Echo's Songs

Song Collection

Daron Aric Hagen

Anonymous

William Blake

E. E. Cummings

Benjamin Jonson

Edgar Allan Poe

Kenneth Rexroth

Carl Sandburg

Gertrude Stein

Sara Teasdale

Walt Whitman

i carry your heart

John Woods Duke

E. E. Cummings

In the Rain

Ned Rorem

E. E. Cummings

Song Collection: Poems of Love and Rain

Just-Spring

John Woods Duke

E. E. Cummings

maggie and milly and molly and may

John Musto

E. E. Cummings

Song Collection: Quiet Songs

my sweet old etcetera

Hugo Weisgall

E. E. Cummings

Song Collection: Soldier Songs

Lovestars

Song Collection

Juliana Hall

E. E. Cummings

Octaves and Sweet Sounds

Song Collection

Richard Hundley

E. E. Cummings

James Joyce

James Purdy

Gertrude Stein

José García Villa

Poems of Love and Rain

Song Collection

Ned Rorem

W. H. Auden

E. E. Cummings

Emily Dickinson

Howard Moss

Jack Larson

Kenneth Pitchford

Theodore Roethke

Donald Windham

Poet's Song

Aaron Copland

E. E. Cummings

Quiet Songs

Song Collection

Léonie Adams

E. E. Cummings

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Eugene O’Neill

Arthur Symons

Seashore Girls

Richard Hundley

E. E. Cummings

Song Collection: Octaves and Sweet Sounds

Songs About Spring

Song Collection

Dominick Argento

E. E. Cummings

Songs of the Trees

Song Collection

Steve Heitzeg

sweet spring

John Musto

E. E. Cummings

Song Collection: Viva Sweet Love

The Mountains Are Dancing

John Woods Duke

E. E. Cummings

Two Birds

Song Collection

Juliana Hall

E. E. Cummings

Viva Sweet Love

Song Collection

John Musto

E. E. Cummings

James Laughlin

Why Did You Go

Daron Aric Hagen

E. E. Cummings

Song Collection: Echo's Songs

Audio

Track:

    Sheet Music

    Aaron Copland: Song Album

    Composer(s): Aaron Copland

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

    Collected Songs Volumes (Musto)

    Composer(s): John Musto

    Buy via Hal Leonard

    Collected Songs Volumes (Musto)

    Composer(s): John Musto

    Find at your Local Library

    Echo's Songs

    Composer(s): Daron Aric Hagen

    Song(s): 1. Never Pain to Tell Thy Love
    2. I Am Not Yours
    3. A Dream Within a Dream
    4. Echo's Song
    5. I Am Rose
    6. Lost
    7. Why Did You Go
    8. Since You Went Away
    9. Thou Wouldst Be Loved
    10. Look Down, Fair Moon
    11. The Mild Mother

    Find at your Local Library

    Richard Cory & Selected Songs

    Composer(s): John Duke

    Song(s): Richard Cory
    Calvary
    Luke Havergal
    Miniver Cheevy
    Bells in the Rain
    Velvet Shoes
    Viennese Waltz
    Evening
    Just-Spring
    When I Set Out for Lyonnesse
    Yellow Hair
    Morning in Paris
    In the Fields
    The Mountains Are Dancing
    Spring Thunder
    Be Still As You Are Beautiful
    One Red Rose
    O World
    The Song of Wandering Aengus
    Brown Penny

    Voice Type: Mixed

    Buy via Carl Fischer Music

    Poems of Love and Rain

    Composer(s): Ned Rorem

    Voice Type: Medium

    Buy via Boosey & Hawkes

    Songs Through the Centuries: 41 Vocal Repertoire Pieces from the 17th Century Through the 20th Centuries

    Composer(s): John Duke

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

    The Songs of John Duke

    Composer(s): John Duke

    Song(s): The Babe
    The Bird
    Little Elegy
    Loveliest of Trees
    February Twilight
    A Piper
    I Watched The Lady Caroline
    Peggy Mitchell
    When I Was One-And-Twenty
    April Elegy
    Elaine
    Fragment
    The Grunchin' Witch
    Here In This Spot With You
    I Can't Be Talkin' Of Love
    I Carry Your Heart
    I Ride The Great Black Horses
    The Last Word Of A Bluebird
    Shelling Peas
    The White Dress

    Voice Type: High

    Buy via Hal Leonard

    The Songs of John Duke

    Composer(s): John Duke

    Song(s): The Babe
    The Bird
    Little Elegy
    Loveliest of Trees
    February Twilight
    A Piper
    I Watched The Lady Caroline
    Peggy Mitchell
    When I Was One-And-Twenty
    April Elegy
    Elaine
    Fragment
    The Grunchin' Witch
    Here In This Spot With You
    I Can't Be Talkin' Of Love
    I Carry Your Heart
    I Ride The Great Black Horses
    The Last Word Of A Bluebird
    Shelling Peas
    The White Dress

    Voice Type: Low

    Buy via Hal Leonard

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