Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Boston Common; Underground

Poem of the Day:
E.E. Cummings' "Poem 31"
No Thank You

Excerpt from "Poem 31"

does yesterday's perfection seem not quite

so clever as the pratfall of a clown
(should stink of failure more than wars of feet

all things whose slendering sweetness touched renown)
suddenly themselves if all dreams unmake
(when in a most smashed unworld stands unslain

Today I got a job. In celebration I took the T to Boston Common, book and apple in hand. I found a beautiful tree which provided shade and back support (and needles in my hair); feeling comfortable, I settled into the park.

Midway through my celebratory reading session I thought my phone was vibrating. Alas, it was wishful thinking; the vibrations were too deep and too full to be the product of my outdated phone (we all know the iPhone rumbles and roars instead of vibrates). Then I realized that I could feel the T moving beneath the park, a queer heaven versus hell scenario.

Cummings writes, "suddenly themselves if all dreams unmake/(when in a most smashed unworld stands unslain/he which knows not if any anguish struck" (lines 5-7). Cummings is a beautiful read, and a difficult fit of comprehension. "[U]nworld stands unslain" is pleasing both to the ear and the eye, but those double negatives are a killer for those of us who want more than a sensory exploration of the poem.

I think Cummings is writing, among other things, about two separate worlds, reality ("yesterday's perfection") and the world in which our dreams are housed ("a most smashed unworld"). It is unclear which he regards more highly; reality seems contrived, "so clever as the pratfall of a clown" (line 2) whereas this dream world is unattainable by the simple fact of being an "unworld."

Today, was Boston Common my reality while the metro rumbling beneath my dreamworld? Or was the park my collection of dreams, paradise in its naturalness?

There may be no answer. I do know that I experienced a poem in the midst of reading it; how lucky I am!

A Poem A Day Audrey


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