Fall 1956 • Vol. XVIII No. 4 Nonfiction |

The Dangers of Security: E. E. Cummings’ Revolt against the Future

The recent Collected Poems of E. E. Cummings shows more clearly than ever that, without announcing his intentions, Cummings has written a body of verse strongly and consistently in rebellion against the future. It is not the removed future of any utopian ideal, but the future now arriving, out of which, like mountaineers cutting their steps out of the very glacier that resists them, we are already cutting our days. In the Cummings Issue of The Harvard Wake in 1946, there was a statement by Allen Tate which I take to be a reference to the same fact in other terms. In speaking of a man who has often been considered a minor and a wayward poet, he cites a juncture of qualities that is again and again called into the argument when literary greatness is being discussed: ". . . in looking back over the war years I see only one American poet who kept his humanity and his poetry, and that man is Estlin Cummings. . . . Among the men of our age some kept their humanity, some their poetry;

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The recent Collected Poems of E. E. Cummings shows more clearly than ever that, without announcing his intentions, Cummings has written a body of verse strongly and consistently in rebellion […]

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