Sunday Night Journal, May 27, 2018
Sunday Night Journal, June 3, 2018

52 Poems, Week 22: somewhere I have never travelled, gladly beyond (e.e. cummings)

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain, has such small hands

*

I never seek out poetry, but my interest in the arts does put me into contact with it occasionally. I remember enjoying e.e. cummings when I happened to be in a poetry course back in college, and even in one of my AP English courses in high school taught by Mr. Cox. He seemed sort of “a stiff”, but when he got going about poetry it transformed him in a way, and those were the most memorable class periods.

However, where I remember hearing this poem first is in the great Woody Allen movie, Hannah and Her Sisters. Michael Caine’s character is either having an affair with his wife’s sister Lee, or is wooing her at the time he picks out an e.e. cummings book while they are both in a bookstore and tells her to read a poem on a certain page. In the next scene, she is sitting and reading it, and you hear Caine’s voiceover reciting the words. It is a very wonderful poem.

--Stu Moore

Comments

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Exquisite

Around the time we got married and for a few years after that, I had a book of poems by e e cummings that I read many times. My favorite was i thank You God for most this amazing. I'm a bit impatient with the no capitals now, and it just occurred to me that given the current state of internet communication, some people wouldn't even notice there was anything different. I still like the poem though. It's a Spring poem, but it describes the way I feel in the Fall.

AMDG

I've been impatient with the NO CAPITALS thing for a long time. I tend to be like Flannery O'Connor: if it looks funny on the page I don't read it. I think she was talking about "experimental" fiction. Poetry of course gets a lot more leeway. But anyway, I do like this poem, though I'm not a big cummings fan.

Posting this poem put me in a bit of a typographical quandary. After trying different things for the first few posts, I had arrived at the convention of putting the title in caps in the post. But that would have been against this poet's wishes. And since the title is also the first line, repeating it in lower case looked kind of stupid. So as you can see I just left it out of the post itself.

Wow!

Of all the poems in the book, the one I mentioned is the only one I remember, and I since it was 100 selected poems by e e cummings, that's a lot of poems to forget. I don't even remember if Stu's poem was in there, but I am pretty sure I remember it from the movie. There was at least one other movie around that time with 3 sisters, and I remember thinking after seeing them both that my sisters and I were pretty dull.

AMDG

Sorry. Shouldn't do italics after bedtime.

:-)

"My favorite was i thank You God for most this amazing day"

Janet, I presume you know Eric Whitacre's wonderful choral setting of that poem?

I am now. That was lovely.

I'm glad you mentioned it because I had seen the YouTube videos while I was looking for the poem and I was thinking I wouldn't like it. Unreasoned prejudice, I guess.

AMDG

Is this about a person or God?

AMDG

I wondered about that too, Janet. Found this at the Poetry Foundation website:

Hyatt H. Waggoner, writing in American Poets from the Puritans to the Present, noted that “the love poems are generally, after the 1920s, religious in tone and implication, and the religious poems very often take off from the clue provided by a pair of lovers, so that often the two subjects are hardly, if at all, separable.”

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