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Edward Estlin Cummings

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting,”-E. E. Cummings. E. E. Cummings was considered one of the most innovative poets of the twentieth century. Now I will tell you a little bit about him. Edward Estlin Cummings was born on October 14, 1884 in Cambridge Massachusetts. He spent his early years in Cambridge until he began to attend Harvard University in 1912. E. E. Cummings graduated in 1916 with an M. A. and a B. A. in English and classic literature.

After graduating from Harvard, Cummings joined the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps, in France. He was an ambulance driver during World War I until he wrote letters back home criticizing the conduct of the war, and the nervous French censors had him arrested and sent him to a detention center, where he remained for three months before being released. While in the French prison Cummings wrote the basis of his first published book The Enormous Room. This book was considered one of the greatest literary works to come out of World War I. This book was written as a journal of Cummings prison stay.

It is said to be heightened by an experimental prose style and a hatred of a bureaucracy that could treat helpless and innocent civilians so cruelly. Cummings was drafted into the U. S. Army in shortly after the 1918 Armistice. He depicts military life satirically in such poems as, “i sing of Olaf glad and big. ” After the war, Cummings devoted himself entirely to his writing and painting, publishing 11 books of poems. He also published a second antibureaucracy journal entitled Eimi (Greek for “I Am”), in 1933. Besides being a poet, Cummings was a playwright, prose writer, and painter. Most of the time, however, he was a poet.

Cummings received the Bollingen Prize for poetry in 1957. He also received the Shelley Memorial Award for poetry in 1944, along with being awarded the Charles Eliot Norton Professorship at Harvard for the academic year 1952-1953. Cummings life ended on September 3, 1962 at the age of 80. Cummings poetry, noted for its eccentricities of typography, language, and punctuation, usually seeks to convey a joyful, living awareness of sex and love was the first of its kind. At a first these innovations were thought of as grammatical errors, but they were in all actuality, grammatical innovations.