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Connotation of Infinity
Edward Estlin Cummings
- Dos Passos and Cummings were imprisoned in a large room, later became inspiration for famous work, "The Enormous Room"
- After the war, Cummings returned to Paris in 1921 and stayed there for two years before returning to New York.
- His collection Tulips and Chimneys came in 1923 and is is noted his inventive use of grammar and syntax is evident.
- He became known for his colloquialism and loved among young adults.
Born: October 14, 1894 in Cambridge Mass.
-Grew up in a Unitarian Family.
-Wanted to be a poet since he was young, wrote poetry from ages 8-22
-Attended Harvard University
-In 1917, Cummings enlisted in the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps with his college friend John Dos Passos.
-Stayed in Paris for 5 weeks before beginning work in the Ambulance Corps
-Greatly influenced his work, he would return many times during his lifetime.
-During their service, they sent letters home which caught the attention of military censors.
-On September 17th, just 7 months after beginning of their service, they were arrested for the suspicion of espionage.
- Cummings spent the 30's traveling to Paris many times, as well the rest of Europe, meeting artists of different mediums.
- In 1926, Cummings' father was killed in a car accident. the death had a tremendous impact on Cummings. He began a new period of writing, which focused on life, death, and God.
Final Years and Death
- In 1952 Harvard University honored Cummings an honorary seat as a guest professor. The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures he gave in honor were later collected as: six nonlectures.
- Cummings spent the last decade of his life traveling, speaking engagements, and spending time at his home.
- He died of a stroke on September 3, 1962, at the age of 67 in North Conway, New Hampshire at the Memorial Hospital.
a connotation of infinity
sharpens the temporal splendor of this night
when souls which have forgot frivolity
in lowliness,noting the fatal flight
of worlds whereto this earth’s a hurled dream
down eager avenues of lifelessness
consider for how much themselves shall gleam,
in the poised radiance of perpetualness.
When what’s in velvet beyond doomed thought
is like a woman amorous to be known;
and man,whose here is always worse than naught,
feels the tremendous yonder for his own—
on such a night the sea through her blind miles
of crumbling silence seriously smiles
The connotation of infinity is the idea of forever. In the first line, " the connotation of infinity sharpens the temporal splendor of this night."
Cummings is suggesting that when you think of the infinite universe, the wonder of the night become detached from God or religion. It is pure and vast and beautiful.
He goes on to speak of people who have lost their childlike or "frivolous" nature due to the grim realization of death as an inevitability in which the physical world stand no chance. "of worlds whereto this earth’s a hurled dream." He creates a parallel between the beauty and wonder of the night and heaven.
The "people" Cummings speaks of are religious, who believe in heaven at least because he writes "consider for how much themselves shall gleam,in the poised radiance of perpetualness." He is speaking of the reward they will get in heaven at the expense of giving up their frivolity.
"When what’s in velvet beyond doomed thought, is like a woman, amorous to be known." This means that fore mentioned afterlife is like a loving woman, if you get passed the idea of doomed thought. Cummings ends the poem by writing "on such a night the sea through her blind miles, of crumbling silence seriously smiles." He describes the vastness and the seriousness look of the sea. Smile, taking on a sarcastic tone, indirectly but surely mocking the pious people he was describing.