21 pages 42 minutes read

E. E. Cummings

[love is more thicker than forget]

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1939

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Historical Context

Perhaps the greatest irony of the poetry of E. E. Cummings is how such whimsical and riotously funny poetry was generated in its era. Born in the closing years of the 19th century, Cummings inevitably reflected in his idiosyncratic poetry his reaction (really, his rejection) of two historic realities: the moral and spiritual anxieties engendered by World War One and the economic and political anxieties generated by the worldwide financial collapse known now as the Great Depression. Within that grim historic context, Cummings offers a little anarchy and a lot of freedom.

The shaping experience of young Cummings was his detention on the suspicion of treason by the Allies while he was volunteering in France for the thankless task of ministering to the Allied wounded in the ambulance corps. For Cummings’s generation, the war, with its unprecedented attrition, its mobilization of an array of weapons of mass destruction, and its sheer inability to find its way to any meaningful purpose, fought largely to reserve political alliances and monarchial privilege rather than any loftier ideals, created a deep and abiding sense of existential malaise, a feeling that Western civilization itself had gone bad. As God faded to an irrelevant fantasy, what was left of Cummings’s civilization was shot through with irony, the disparity between what civilization once meant and the carnage, brutality, stupidity, and sheer greed that created and then prolonged a war without end.