E.E. Cummings: The Individual and His Work

Essay by stoney0515High School, 12th gradeA, January 2004

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Every so often an artist emerges in his field whose ideas are refreshingly different, and breaks the mold set out by society. Such a man was E. E. Cummings. Not only did he break the mold, he shattered it with a monstrous wrecking-ball. " He is known for his idiosyncratic and typographically inventive poetry..."(www.biography.com 1) Cummings firmly believed in his ideas and strived to be an individual in all aspects of life. As he himself said, "It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are."(qtd.in www.cp-tel-net)

Edward Estlin Cummings was born in Cambridge, Mass., on October 14, 1894 to Edward and Rebecca Haswell Clarke Cummings. His childhood would have been a common one, a life just like any other person in that day. There is no record of him doing things in his childhood characteristic of the extremely individualistic and sometimes rebellious adult life that he would live.

After graduating from high school he attended Harvard, perhaps because his father, who at one time was a professor there. He graduated from Harvard Magna cum Laude in 1915, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree; he received a Master's degree in 1916.

After completing his B.A. and M.A. in English and Classical Studies, he volunteered for the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps in France during WWI. Now one would suppose a person serving his country during war would face opposition, but it's usually from the enemy. In Cummings's case, however, it was from the French. "Shortly after arriving in France, Cummings was imprisoned for three months in a concentration camp, partly because of the stupidity of the French military authorities, and partly because of Cummings's own stubbornness (he refused to say he hated the Germans; he would only admit that he loved the French)."(McMichael 1209) According to James...