i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)
“i carry your heart with me” by E.E. Cummings from Complete Poems: 1904-1962. © Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1991. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, born in Denison, Texas in 1890. His mother was a pacifist, and when he decided to go to West Point for college, she broke down in tears. He loved being in the military, training troops; he wrote a letter to a friend and said: “I’m having the time of my life. Like everyone else in the army, we’re up to our necks in work and in problems, big and little. But this work is fun! … I could not conceive of a better job.” Even though he was a general, he loved to smoke cigarettes and make small talk with soldiers, and he slept in the trenches with the privates, and when he traveled by jeep near enemy lines, he preferred to drive the jeep himself. He said, “An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.” And he said, “An atheist is a man who watches a Notre Dame-Southern Methodist University game and doesn’t care who wins.”
And, The older I get, the more I believe in what I can’t explain or understand, even more than the things that are explainable and understandable.
It’s the birthday of American poet and playwright E.E. Cummings (1894) (books by this author), born Edward Estlin Cummings in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His father was a professor of sociology and political science at Harvard University, and Cummings grew up around intellectuals, including philosopher Williams James, who encouraged him to write from an early age. Cummings’ family was Unitarian and he considered himself a pacifist, though he enlisted in World War I and was sent to France (1917) to serve in the ambulance corps with his good friend, novelist John Dos Passos.
Cummings’ letters home were vociferously anti-war and he was imprisoned in Orne, Normandy, for almost four months on suspicion of treason. He was kept in one large room with 30 other prisoners, an experience he later fictionalized in his novel The Enormous Room (1922). His father received a letter telling him his son was lost at sea and was so distraught he began writing letters to officials. When he received no answer, he wrote directly to President Wilson, who was able to locate Cummings. Cummings was very close to his parents. His poem “my father moved through dooms of love” was written after his parents were involved in car accident with a locomotive. Cummings’ father was killed instantly, his body cut in half.
Cummings’ poems were short and playfully innovative in structure. He favored concise sentences, lowercase letters, unusual typography, and acrostics. He liked to invent compound words like “puddle-wonderful” and “mud-luscious.” No one quite knew what to make of his work when his first collection, Tulips and Chimneys, was published in 1923. Literary critic Helen Vendler found Cummings’ poetry exasperating. She said, “What is wrong with a man who writes like this?”
For more than 40 years and three marriages, E.E. Cummings lived in the same apartment at #4 Patchin Place in Greenwich Village, New York City. He traveled often to Paris. He had friends like Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, and John Cheever. He wore Harris Tweed and a collapsible top hat. His Aunt Jane took most of what little money he had and sent him a carton of Melba toast in return. He survived giving lectures at colleges and high schools. He said, “If poetry is your goal, you’ve got to forget all about punishments and all about rewards and all about self-styled obligations and duties and responsibilities.”
Most of his poetry collections were self-published until the late 1940s, when the burgeoning counterculture suddenly discovered him, and his poetry became quite popular, especially poems like “i carry your heart with me” and “somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond,” which contains his most famous line, “nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands.” At the time of his death in 1962, he was the second most popular poet in America, behind Robert Frost.
E.E. Cumming’s collections of poetry include Tulips and Chimneys (1923), & (1925), XLI Poems (1925), and XAIPE: Seventy-One Poems (1950).
It’s the birthday of short-story writer Katherine Mansfield (books by this author), born Katherine Mansfield Beauchamp in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1888. She had affairs with men and women, she traveled deep into the countryside and lived with the indigenous people of New Zealand, and she published stories under a variety of pseudonyms, and some of those stories were scandalous. She wrote In a German Pension (1911) and The Garden Party (1922). Mansfield sent a letter to an editor asking for money, and she said, “[I have] a rapacious appetite for everything and principles as light as my purse.” And she said, “The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless and free your actions will be.” And, “Some couples go over their budgets very carefully every month. Others just go over them.”
Theodore Roosevelt was shot at a campaign stop on this date in 1912. Roosevelt had just gotten into a car outside a Milwaukee hotel when John Schrank, an unemployed saloonkeeper, shot him with a Colt revolver from a distance of five feet. Schrank — who believed he had been given orders by the ghost of President McKinley — had been stalking Roosevelt, and intended to stop him from pursuing a third term as president. It had been an ugly campaign so far, with deep division in the Republican Party. Roosevelt left the GOP and ran as a member of the National Progressive, or “Bull Moose,” Party.
The crowd tackled the shooter, but Roosevelt’s composure was not ruffled in the least. He asked Schrank why he’d done it, and turned the man over to the police when he received no answer. Roosevelt then coughed experimentally into his hand, and deduced that the bullet had not penetrated his lungs, because he didn’t cough up any blood. He insisted on proceeding to the Milwaukee Auditorium, where he delivered a 90-minute speech as scheduled.
He began by calling for quiet, and then told the stunned crowd: “I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot — but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” He opened his coat to reveal his bloodstained shirt, and credited the 50-page speech in his breast pocket for saving his life. Roosevelt blamed the media for provoking the shooter: “It is a very natural thing,” he said, “that weak and vicious minds should be inflamed to acts of violence by the kind of awful mendacity and abuse that have been heaped upon me for the last three months by the papers.” He also predicted that such shootings would become more commonplace, should the government fail to care for the well-being of all its citizens.
In the end, Roosevelt came in second to Democrat Woodrow Wilson. He received 27 percent of the vote, the most any third-party candidate has received in an American presidential election. Schrank’s bullet remained lodged in Roosevelt’s rib for the rest of his life.