Monday, March 05, 2007

Poem of the Week 3/5/2007: (all ignorance tobaggans into know)

all ignorance toboggans into know
and trudges up to ignorance again:
but winter's not forever,even snow
melts;and if spring should spoil the game,what then?

all history's a winter sport or three:
but were it five,i'd still insist that all
history is too small even for me;
for me and you,exceedingly too small.

Swoop(shrill collective myth)into thy grave
merely to toil the scale to shrillerness
per every madge and mabel dick and dave
--tomorrow is our permanent address

and there they'll scarcely find us (if they do,
we'll move away still further:into now

ee cummings 1944

I just wondered if one reason that ee cummings uses such strange punctuation is that he works to escape the norm--he looks to dive under language and play and play. This is how he can leap about within time and ignorance in this poem. What lighter and more fun images could there be save those of knowledge tobagganing between ignorance and wisdom? Nietzsch writes of this, that truth comes out of error, but nowhere is it so gracefully and easily apparent than right here. It is a gentler way of putting the idea that sometimes we are wrong, and that our knowledge climbs slowly, with many slips and turns.

Our ability for freedom also slips and turns, working to shake the fetters of What Has Been (presumably, since this is written during WWII, guilt, terror, and darkness. ee cummings was also a prisoner of war for a long time, and so there is good reason that he would want to avoid the terrors of war, to sink beneath them in joyous, leaping language). This is not to say that he looks to escape history, but rather that he does not want to chain himself to it. He looks to the future, looks even to where he is right now-- the idea is simple, relinquish the past, and don't let them worry you about your future. cummings' version of this idea, I think, has more to do with carelessness than it does with really sinking into the present, but even that ability to relax, to be what you are and where you are, that's something. Not nothing, anyway.

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