Essay about The Role of Humanism in the Poems of E.E. Cummings

Essay about The Role of Humanism in the Poems of E.E. Cummings

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It can be said that poetry is very much like its poet, seeing as they both contain two different sides: one that is seen while taking your very first glance and another that can only be unearthed and understood through the study of its underlying influences. So it is not unusual that in order to gain a complete and comprehensive outlook on a poem, one must first study nonfiction sources to see the motivation and purpose behind each chosen word. E.E. Cumming’s works, a notable World War I era poet of the modernist movement, were heavily affected by the hatred and atrocities of warfare, which is seen in the way that his resentment towards humanity grows within this period, and thusly reflects in the poems he created around this time. One of these poems, entitled “Humanity i love you” can be seen as one such work. However, these influences are perhaps unclear at first, which shall be evidenced by this first cursory analysis of this poem.

Task 1: A Cursory Analysis
“Humanity i love you” makes its first impression with its unconventional use of capitalization, or rather, the distinct lack of, which aids Cummings in his manipulation of emphasis. All words, most recognizably “I”, are in lowercase, as presented in the title of the poem. This is a common fixture of E.E. Cummings’ works, and it has been speculated that such a choice was a mark of humility on Cummings’ part in order to show that the authority of the poet isn’t as important as the words themselves. However, in this case it seems that Cummings has manipulated the continued use of the lowercase “i” in order to bring forth the only word that does happen to be capitalized: Humanity. The noticeable emphasis that this places on the word immediately pulls the word from its su...


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...ings felt disgust for those on the home front who willfully or stupidly believed government propaganda and whatever patriotic, racial, or ideological excuses were offered for war” (Murphy xiv). Due to these events of World War I, and Cummings’ further pursuit to write his experiences into what would become the Enormous Room, Cummings was “introduced [to] themes that Cummings would pursue throughout his career: the individual against society, against government, and against all forms of authority.” (“Cummings, E(dward) E(stlin)”, par. 4)
Perhaps the next integral portion of E.E. Cummings life was being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1918 after his return from the French detainment camp and subsequent years of living as a painter. Such an event exposed Cummings to the horrors of warfare, and essentially, challenged his pacifist viewpoints to its fullest capability.

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