Unpublished E.E. Cummings poem found.

One day last year, while working on a biography of the publisher Scofield Thayer, I opened a folder of papers related to his magazine The Dial. The folder contained undated letters from the poet E.E. Cummings to Thayer, early versions of a couple Cummings’ poems and one poem by Cummings I couldn’t remember ever seeing before. It was called “(tonite” and, until I came across it, it was unknown. Evidence suggests that the poem was sent sometime around 1916, when Cummings was embarking on his career as a poet and artist. At this time the two men had known each other for about three years. Their friendship, which would last until Thayer succumbed to paranoid schizophrenia a decade later, was based largely on a shared passion for art and literature. Cummings benefited most from the relationship, as the wealthy Thayer gave Cummings money to write and paint, launched his career with publication in The Dial, and blithely assented to Cummings romancing, bedding (and, as it happened, impregnating) his beautiful wife.
The friendship had begun when, a century ago this year, a young Edward Estlin Cummings entered Harvard. There he met Thayer, fabulously wealthy and an influential figure on campus. Today, Cummings is widely read and anthologized, and Thayer all but forgotten. But at the time, Cummings looked upon Thayer as a mentor. The first piece of correspondence between the two is a polite fan letter from Cummings regarding a poem Thayer had published in the Harvard Monthly. Fans of the poet’s later work may be amused by the letter’s excessively twee formality.
Read the entire story here.

0 thoughts on “Unpublished E.E. Cummings poem found.

  1. the poem was shocking as fuck, but i don’t expect flowery love sugarcoated daisy fields on substance X all the time from my edward estlin. this was pretty hardcore. what do you guys think.

    1. I wouldn’t say it was ‘shocking as fuck,’ but I would say ol’ EE chose some pretty abrasive words. I do agree, however, that it was hardcore, and that it’s such a shame that it’s only coming to light right now.
      I particularly enjoyed how he kind of weaves the dream in. It has the effect of somehow softening the term ‘nigger,’ after all if God turned everyone black, the word ‘nigger’ almost becomes synonomous with ‘mister,’ or ‘sir.’
      I also really liked how the occupents of nigger street laugh at God. That’s the iconoclastic Cummings that I love. This poem makes me revisit EE. Much better than that Frost poem they found a number of years ago.

      1. you wouldn’t call it shocking as fuck, but it’s all about cover ‘the n word’ in snowflakes. i can’t even say it unless i’m spastic and i feel really terrible afterward, no matter what the context is and what point i’m proving. and consider the time period too.
        he preferred his initials lowercase, by the by.

  2. people should really be discussing this dammit, it’s a crazy unfound ee cummings poem after all! come on freaks and geeks stop recommending and start discussing!

  3. Well, I don’t feel like arguing over semantics. You can say it was ‘shocking as fuck,’ but to tell the truth I wasn’t too shocked. ‘Nigger’ is a pretty sharp word, but I’ve been cut by words plenty of times. So I wasn’t too shocked. That was my reaction. That wasn’t your reaction. And both reactions, as far as I can tell, are valid.
    By the way, I’m pretty sure that E.E. Cummings didn’t like displaying his name in all lower case letters. I think I read that in an anthology “Poetry Speaks.”

    1. i’m not trying to disprove your reaction, i’m explaining mine. in fact, i’m suprised your comments aren’t in the pending folder even with the quotation marks around the word i’m dancing around typing, because mine ALWAYS go in the pending folder for curse words, even when i mentioned ‘penises’ recently, straight to the check-for-spam folder.
      i never knew that…i’d like to look that up.

      1. if anyone who reads this probably just cloyd is interested why i’m fuming over censorship right now, i know it was automatic, check the ‘awaiting moderation’ comments right now. ‘ni**ers’ v. ‘peni*es’. which is more offensive. oh lord.

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