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This is poetry and the American a series of broadcasts on American poets and poetry produced and recorded by station KPFA in Berkeley California under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. The program you're about to hear is a discussion and reading of the work of one of the most interesting and inventive of contemporary American poets economy. It has been prepared by Professor Robert Bellew of the department of speech at the University of California at Berkeley. And here now presenting the poetry of IIT Cummings is Robert Bellew. Hey this busy monster man kind not to progress is a comfortable disease. You're a victim. Death and life safely beyond plays with the bigness of his littleness electrons deify one razorblade into a mountain range lenses
extend a noirish through curving aware when tellen wish returns on its unself a world of mate is not a world of born today people are flesh and trees poor stars and stones but never this fine specimen of hyper magical ultra omnipotence. We doctors know a hopeless case of lesson. There is a hell of a good universe next door let's go. This poem by economic news may serve to introduce a sketch I'd like to develop of what seemed the salient concerns the poetic landscape to be found in his work. A very American landscape whose central contrasts are on the one hand the finite repetitive manufactured world and on the other hand the infinite universe of the never duplicated born or created political society whatever its form of
government is constantly making choices among the various degrees of concentration of authority. The Poet E. Cummings isn't a Native American tradition of radicalism that has stood at various times in various attitudes toward the world around it and has found such widely variant voices as Paine Jefferson throw Emerson Whitman but Tommy's attitude differs from that of all these men with whom he obviously shares much. Goes without saying for he lives in a different world based as he is by the growth not simply of the mass of government which many of the earlier men feared but a massive technique massive corporation massive education coming his finds his tradition of individual as an isolated and dwindling. He is paradoxically a conservative radical and I am trying to assert the primary value of the individual against a monolithic society which does not even bother to say him nay. But there are
conservatives and conservatives there are those who have some hope for those values which they feel must be conserved and there are those who consciously or unconsciously have no such oh those who are without hope and do happen to be writers are limited in their possible additives their possible modes of expression. They may recall sentimental of the past. Well they may become satirise preserving their own integrity by striking out against a world which does not believe in their economies as a satirist. And it is in his role as a satirist that I would ask you to consider him today. It's a common mistake to think of a satirist as one who simply satirizes On the contrary the best satirists usually at some time in their writing present what is called their satiric norm the satiric norm is a fictive presentation of believed in manners and people in short of the human values which hold the author's trust the foundation of Cummings attitude toward
life is his belief in the spontaneous act of creation and love. Love in creation and Creation in love and in the inseparability of the two. He has many literary symbols he uses for this condition. Spring Paris April. A loved one a man contented with his own manhood stripped of Job's ambition power. The supreme good is a joyous affirmation of life. It is the unreflective yielding to one's most profound impulses to give. It is the born the miraculously created as opposed to the made the primed it is yes as opposed to No. It is a feeling as opposed to reason. It is the alive as opposed to the undead that is those who are not officially corpses. Cummings further believes that only the individual is capable of this all important act of love in
creation. The no person acting in an official capacity is capable of being alive because he has relinquished his human will to the will of the mass whose mouthpiece he has become. Coming celebrates inshore the one the whole the basic feeling pulsating a loving brick of God's great living edifice as against the right of that abstract structure to crush its individual members. There is a stanza of a poem that illustrates this in terms of a man who is making an answer to a society's or at least modern society's continual question. What is your specialty. My specialty is living said a man who could not earn his bread because he would not sell his head. Ironically the great satirist is one whose faith is usually if anything
excessive and he usually embodies that faith in some aspect of his literature. The first part of this profile will consist of poems in which Cummings figures for his areas of belief. One of his main poetic endeavors for instance is to make us feel his belief in spontaneous living by trying to paint what some of these moments have been to him. A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away and the trees down. I think I too have known autumn too long. And what have you to say when the wind when did your love somebody and a view of the puddle of somewhere in your heart
hinge from Donna Summer. Crazy daddy of death diamonds cruelly forest and start the last leaf we're reeling in the final brain of air. Let us as we have seen see integration. Oh when that has blown the rain away and the leaves and the sky and the trees died. The tree was stabbed. The trees suddenly weighed against them on the way. Another method Cummings uses to map his area of faith is to tell what some of the human
qualities he values such as love mean to him and how they relate to other values. Since feeling is first who pays any attention to the syntax of things whenever holy KSU holy to be a fool while spring is in the world my blood approves and kisses are a better fate than wisdom. Lady I swear by all flowers don't cry. The best gesture of my brain is less than your eyelids flutters which says we are for each other. Then laugh leaning back in my arms. My life's not a paragraph and death I thing is no parenthesis.
Our sense of Cummings face often comes to us through his sympathetic portrayal of certain kinds of people. The person sketched in the next poem is simply an empty headed pretty girl. But because coming values if one has to make a choice. Openness and giving more than propriety or brain is able to view her with a gentle and tender irony. Goodbye but I don't remember me pencil your eyes dayer and have a good time with the tall tight boys at the Baris. Keep your teeth Snowie. Stick to beer and lime web doc. And where you're meeting breasts are around have roses darling. It's all I ask of you. Bout that when
light fails then there's sweet profound Peris Mo's with lovers too and too bound for themselves and passionately dusk brings soft lay down the perfume of the world and just as smaller stars begin to house haven't you. You exactly pale and corrode with mystic lips take twilight where I know proving to death that love is sell and sell. Cummings has a broad understanding of the half done half numb suffering of those who obscure or lay face the mystery of existence. It really must be nice never to have no
imagination and never never to wonder about guys you used to know them slim hot Queens with damn next to nothing on tango on. I love how it tries to hold down the 50 bucks for a job with one for you and rock a cradle with the other. It must be nice never to have no doubts about why you put the ring on and watching your face grow old and tired to which you're married now and get a red washing things and dishes. And then never never really wonder. I mean about the smell of babies and how you know the damn rents going to everything. Never never never to
stand it no window because I can't sleep. Smoking sawdust cigarette in the middle of the night I. It's jolly odd what pops into your jolly Tet when the jelly shells begin dropping jolly fast you hear the roar bend then nearer and nearer and nearer and before you can. And we're not alive. I say that's jolly odd old thing Charlie odd. Jolly odd isn't it jolly odd. And so Cummings tells us of what he considers the real world and how to live in it
and how people must live in it. In the following poem he does that but also indicates By contrast the world and the attitudes he thinks deadly to the human spirit. And so this poem will serve as a bridge between our vision of what he loves and the picture that follows of what he hates between is satiric norm if you will and his satire. The poem is an allegory it was a very brief one however and we must have some hint as to the symbolic meaning of the characters. Well they will be gone before we know them. On the one hand we have anyone and no one not anyone is the name of a man. Anyone that is any one any individual whole and complete and his wife no one that is to say an individual of no social importance. These two who live their lives in some pleasant unspecified town. They love each other they celebrate creatively their success or failure. He
sang his Didn't he dance his did they die and keep on growing closer together through nature whose natural rhythms they have always been. By contrast to these are the other allegorical figures the women and men. Notice how this distinction insists on their lack of spiritual union. The someones The people who think themselves important. The Everyone is the people who pride themselves on their lack of individuality on being just like everyone else. Contrast that to the joy and reality of the love of anyone and no one. The someones of the everyone's The women and man lead lives of beauty sameness and unreality. Anyone lived in a pretty how town with up so floating many bells down spring summer.
Autumn Winter he sang is dead and he danced his dead. Women and men both little and small cared for anyone not at all. They so there isn't they repeat their same song on star running. Children gas. But only a few and down they forgot his up they grew from Winter's brains. That no one loved him by when by now and tree by leaf she laughed his joy as she cried his grief blurred by snow and stone by still anyone's And it was all up to her. Someone is married there everyone's life they're crying and did
their dying sleep wake up and then they said there never was. They slept there. Rain stars rain and sun and only the snow can begin to explain how children are apt to forget to remember with up so floating many bells down. One day anyone died I guess and no one stooped to kiss his face. Busy folk buried them side by side Little by little and was by was all by all and deep by deep bend more by more they dream their sleep no one and anyone earth by April wish by spirit and if by yes.
Women and man both Don daying sama autumn winter spring reap their sowing and when there came a siren stop. The satirist inevitably ends consciously or unconsciously in a paradoxical situation where he is a man powerfully directed by some abstract idea or pattern. And though ideas are certainly as real as any material thing the vast multitudinous parade of life is not likely to be contained by one street no matter how shiny are the buttons on the cop who would so direct it. Thus the satirist passionately idealistic concerning
humanity finds himself inevitably required to deny a part of humanity because it does not go the way he pines. We see this clearly in Cummings he deeply desires for people to say yes instead of No. To love instead of doubt. Yet he is himself paradoxically forced to deny to doubt the value of a part of reality. I doubt the value indeed of certain humans. Of course one may say his is a valid and needed criticism of the human race profits immeasurably from the satirists vision and indeed if this were not the case even the greatest technical brilliance could not hold our attention for long. But the paradox is still there. Finally perhaps unresolvable. Following are some illustrations of certain individuals or types of individuals whom Cummings hates or dislikes. Comrades died because their toll comrades died before
their old comrades aren't afraid to die comrades don't and comrades won't believe in life and death knows why. All good comrades you can tell by their altruism stick smile. Moscow pipes good comrades dance comrades in joy. Yes Freud knows why. The hope that you may mess your pants every come right is a bit of quite done mitigated hate travelling in a futile gruel. God knows why and so do I. Because they are afraid to live. Next to of course God America I love your land of the pilgrims and
so forth Oh say can you see by the dawn's early My Country Tis of centuries come and go and are no more one of it. We should worry in every language even deaf and dumb dice sons or claim your glorious name by golly by jingo by gee by gosh by gum. Why talk of beauty what could be more beautiful than these heroic happy dad who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter. They did not stop to think they died instead. Then Chow the voice of liberty be mute. He spoke and drank rapidly a glass of water. Cummings not only hates undead humans he hates the material materialistic world such people create and value. Of ever ever land I speak sweet morons gather
around who does not dare to stand or say it may take it lying down. Down with the human soul and anything else on cash and for everyone carries can openers in ever ever and for ever ever land is a place thats a simple as simple can be and was built that way on purpose by simple people like we down with hell in heaven and all the religious fuss in vanity pleased our parents. One image looks good to us. Never ever land is a place that's measured unsafe or known where it's likely to be unlucky and the Hitler lies down with the come down above all with love and everything perverse or which makes some feel more better when all ought to feel less worthless. The only sameness is normal in never ever land for a bad cigar is a woman. But I gland is only a gland.
Though that Cummings hates perhaps he hates most of all man as a mass the faceless non living existence which Emily Dickinson in an ironic twist of the phrase Divine Right of Kings called the divine majority. Of all the blessings which to man kind of progress death impart to one stands supreme I mean the and the Mole without a heart. Huge this collective pseudo beast signs either pain or joy does nothing except preexist dids heart in its Poli. And if sometimes he is prodded for to exercise her vote are made by threats of something worth than death to change their coat which is something as you will never guess in fifty thousand years equals the quote unquote loss of liberty. My dears or even is compelled to fight itself from
Taim to T. Still that our hero Carter played in raptures of Island Dream. That's a trick play and how scientific to land a super nod. Freedom is compulsory. Only Man is God. Without a heart the animal is very very kind so kind. You wouldn't like a soul and couldn't you use a mind. All that Cummings would satirize is perhaps someday in the following poem an attack on an age which tends to eliminate right and wrong good and evil creates sameness out of the variety of nature. It converts a love to a mechanism. Jehovah buried Satan dad do fearers worship much and quit.
Badness is not being felt as bad itself things goodness. What is meat. Obey says talk. Submit says take it in turn it is a five year plan. If ya I with pain shall hang in hock. Who dares to call himself a man. Go dreamless knaves on shadows fed your harrys Tom your Tom his dick while gadgets murders and add the cult the same is all the sheet. My instruments both span and speak God justly measured speak against plans to guess the might give jus turn. Who dares to call him self a man. Loudly for Truth of liars play at their heels for freedom slaves well quite where boobs are holy poets mad illustrious punch of progress sry. When souls are outlawed hearts are saying
hearts being sick mind nothing can. If hates again mad love as a blind. Who dares to call himself a mad keen price. This one is all a lead. And life preservers there are none and waves which only he may walk. Who dare to call himself a man. The next brief poem should serve as a suitable conclusion to this limited exploration of the poetic landscape of E. Cummings. For it expresses much of Cummings faith and hope in love and in the eternal A-T of living. When God lets my body be farm each brave I shall sprout a
tree fruit that dangles there from the purple the world will dance upon. Between my lips which did sing a rose shall beget the spring that maidens whom passion wastes will lay between their little brass. My strong fingers beneath the snow and a strenuous bird shall go my love walking on the grass their wings will touch with her face and all the while Will my heart be with the blood and nozzle of the sea. You have heard eet Cummings a lecture recital by Robert Bellew from the Department of speech at the University of California at Berkeley. This has been another
program in the poetry of the American series produced and recorded by station KPFA in Berkeley California under a grant from the educational television and radio center and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the NEA EBV Radio Network.
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Poetry and the American
Readings of e.e. cummings
Producing Organization
pacifica radio
KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
A lecture-recital by Robert Beloof on the works of e.e. cummings.
Series Description
Twenty half-hour programs designed to further the enjoyment of poetry.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Performer: Beloof, Robert, 1923-2005
Producing Organization: pacifica radio
Producing Organization: KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-12-12 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:27
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Chicago: “Poetry and the American; Readings of e.e. cummings,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
MLA: “Poetry and the American; Readings of e.e. cummings.” 1959-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2024. <>.
APA: Poetry and the American; Readings of e.e. cummings. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from