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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cummings

One of the only poems by Cummings I can still stand goes something like this:


If you can't eat you got to

smoke and we aint got
nothing to smoke:come on kid

let's go to sleep
if you can't smoke you got to

Sing and we aint got

nothing to sing;come on kid
let's go to sleep

if you can't sing you got to
die and we aint got

nothing to die,come on kid

let's go to sleep
if you can't die you got to

dream and we aint got
nothing to dream(come on kid

Let's go to sleep)

I'll have to clean up the text once I get the book from which it comes.

6 comments:

Vance Maverick said...

How about "mr u will not be missed"? I had sort of forgotten Cummings, but saw that mentioned somewhere (maybe by Leithauser). Tightly carpentered.

Jonathan said...

That was Louis Untermeyer, right? He put himself in his own anthologies. I rememeber missed rhymed with "anthologist"

Vance Maverick said...

mr u will not be missed
who as an anthologist
sold the many on the few
not excluding mr u

Leithauser (pretty sure it was he) pointed out the fertile ambiguity of the third line, also "Mister, you will not be missed." And yes, Untermeyer (I remember being proud to have figured that out without notes).

Jonathan said...

I don't get the 3rd line. I get one meaning, but I don't get its ambiguity.

Vance Maverick said...

Persuaded the many readers that the few poets were interesting; or sold the many worthless poets to the few readers. You can't really read it both ways at once -- don't remember which of the seven types that is. And with the first reading, you get an extra ambiguity -- the point is either that Untermeyer included himself in the book, or that he fooled himself along with his readers.

Jonathan said...

Ok. I'd only gotten the first reading there.