Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I Carry Your Poem With Me


Here is another short essay I wrote while participating in the edX massive open online course (MOOC) The Art of Poetry taught by Robert Pinsky. 


“[i carry your heart with me(I carry it in]” by E. E. Cummings http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/179622   

Cummings' dismissal of correct spacing and conventional punctuation and his frequent use of enjambment speed the poem along. He connects stanzas one and two with an odd and lonely placement of “i fear.” And he seems to use parentheses as substitutes for commas and periods. Cummings repeats “I carry your heart” twice in the title of the poem, twice in the first line and twice in the last line but each time with different punctuation and the only line in which the words are in a complete sentence is, significantly, the last line of the poem. The bizarre and playful appearance of this poem enhances the romantic message within it.

The first time I read this poem I thought it a lover’s playful valentine to his sweetheart. Rereading it much later it seemed to me the “heart” in the poem is memory. The memories of those we love are always with us. Fairly recently, a friend’s father passed away. This woman had a very close and loving relationship with her father. I was surprised to find myself quoting several lines of “[i carry your heart with me (I carry it in]” to her. The embrace of this poem by “the love poet” is greater than first appears.