Today is a gusty sort of autumn day, the kind that catches you by surprise, being more than 20 degrees cooler than it was yesterday, and filtering what light there is through a fine haze of spidery clouds. So when I signed onto my laptop and saw a quote from E.E. Cummings on my iGoogle homepage, it struck me as perfect for today.
Before you read the poem at all, I encourage you to read it aloud. I think you'll appreciate the sound of the poem better, and get a better a sense of its motion that way. (I grant you I could be wrong.)
a wind has blown the rain away
by E.E. Cummings
a wind has blown the rain away and blown
the sky away and all the leaves away,
and the trees stand. I think i too have known
autumn too long
(and what have you to say,
wind wind wind—did you love somebody
and have you the petal of somewhere in your heart
pinched from dumb summer?
O crazy daddy
of death dance cruelly for us and start
the last leaf whirling in the final brain
of air!)Let us as we have seen see
doom’s integration………a wind has blown the rain
away and the leaves and the sky and the
the trees stand. The trees,
suddenly wait against the moon’s face.
Now the thing is, most folks think Cummings was quite the experimenter. And I suppose he was, but I'd like to draw your attention to the form of the poem you just read: It's a sonnet. It is, more specifically, a Shakespearean sonnet, rhymed ABABCDC'DEFEFGG' (where the little "prime" marks indicate the use of slant rhyme, rather than perfect line, as in "somebody" with "daddy" and "trees" with "face". The poem doesn't look like a Shakespearean sonnet at first because he's split the fourth line and tacked half of it onto the second quatrain, and because of some of the other indentations and punctuation added in there. But it is decidedly a Shakespearean sonnet and, what's more, most of it is in iambic pentameter as well (five iambic feet per line, taDUM taDUM taDUM taDUM taDUM).
So Cummings may have been quite adept at experimenting, but he often worked within established forms in doing so. I love that about him. And I've only recently developed a real interest in his work, having known over the years a mere handful of his poems ("love is more thicker than forget", "i carry your heart with me", "maggie and milly and molly and may" and "in Just-spring").
I like the motion of this poem, and how it seems to spin down and across the page - something Cummings accomplished through careful word choice. I also like the imagery, and his phrase "o crazy daddy of death" - to me, he's speaking of Old Man Winter, but I suppose it could be Time or the Hermit or the Crone, depending on one's perspective. Because of Cummings's language, I picture the Reaper spinning his scythe across the landscape, leaving only those trees in front of the moon. I'd be interested in knowing what you make of this poem.