"i & their son: NONLECTURE TWO"
... poetry and every other art was and is and forever will be strictly
and distinctly a question of individuality....poetry is being, not doing....if poetry is your goal, you've got to forget all about punishments and all about rewards and all about selfstyled obligations and duties and responsibilities.....
[In this passage Cummings presents 3 poetic periods in his career.]
Poetic period number one had been nothing if not individualistic....--but, alas! a moribund mental cloud soon obscured my vital psychic sky. The one...thing which mattered about any poem (so ran my second poetic period's credo) was what the poem said; it's socalled meaning.... Thus it will be seen that, by the year 1900, one growing American boy had reached exactly that stage of "intellectual development" beyond which every ungrowing Marxist adult of today is strictly forbidden...ever to pass. [Here he relates the third period.] The Rhymester diverted my eager energies from what to how: from substance to structure.... With this welcome revelation, the mental cloud aforesaid ignominiously dissolved; and my psychic sky joyfully reappeared....
"i & you & is: NONLECTURE FOUR"
Writing...is an art; and artists...are human beings. As a human being stands, so a human being is....
1922--from my first published book, The Enormous Room
There are certain things in which one is unable to believe for the simple reason that he never ceases to feel them. Things of this sort--things which are always inside of us and in fact are us and which consequently will not be pushed off or away where we can begin thinking about them--are no longer things; they, and the us which they are, equals A Verb; an IS.
1926--from the foreword to a book of poems called Is 5
At least my theory of technique, if I have one, is very far from original; nor is it complicated. I can express it in fifteen words, by quoting The Eternal Question And Immortal Answer of burlesk,viz. "Would you hit a woman with a child?--No,I'd hit her with a brick." Like the burlesk comedian, I am abnormally fond of that precision which creates movement.
1933--from my Soviet Russian diary, EIMI
Not to completely feel is thinking ... to grow is a fate.
"i & now & him: NONLECTURE FIVE"
...I recognize immediately three mysteries: love, art, and selftranscendence or growing.
...Art is a mystery; all mysteries have their source in a mystery-of-mysteries who is love: and if lovers may reach eternity directly through love herself, their mystery remains essentially that of the loving artist whose way must lie through his art, and of the loving worshipper whose aim is oneness with his god. From another point of view, every human being is in and of himself or herself illimitable; but the essence of his or of her illimitability is precisely its uniqueness--nor could all poetry (past present and future) begin to indicate the varieties of selfhood; and consequently of selftranscendence.