Some of Cummings's most famous poems do not involve much if any odd typography or punctuation at all, but still carry his unmistakable style. For example, one famous poem begins:
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In , the same year he and his second wife separated, Cummings met Marion Morehouse, a fashion model and photographer. Although it is not clear if the two were ever officially married, Morehouse would live with Cummings for the remainder of his life, and is considered to have been at the least his .
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swi( is another poem of Cummings' ideogram form. The essence of this poem is seeing a bird's swift flight past the sun, and the wonder of this experience. The poem mainly tries to convince the reader of the difference between conception, what one sees, and perception, what one knows he is seeing (Mar 105). The first line, 'swi(' shows that the object the poet sees is moving so rapdly that before he completely utters his first word, he must describe the object, and that it is passing before another object - the sun. His use of only primary descriptives, such as speed, direction, color, and shape indicates that he is trying to describe the bird as quickly as possible. The way he speaks, in terse syllables that lack syntactical relationship to each other, imitate one who tries to speak before he knows exactly what he wants to say; it is another indication of how quickly the object is moving (106). "a-motion-upo-nmotio-n/Less?", the 6th line, is signifying that although the poet knows that both the objects are moving, one's motion causes the other to seem still (106). The 'd,' at the end of the poem is showing that after the poet has finally named the object he saw, he immediately loses interest and stops, as writing more to further organize his thoughts would be superfluous (106). The contrasting words in this poem are very important. 'against' contrasts with 'across', and signifies a halt. It seems that the poet wants to stop the object in order to describe it. But a stopping of motion would contradict 'swi/ftly', so Cummings decided to refer to the speed average of the two, 'Swi/mming' (106). swi( contains less symbolism than the other poems being analyzed, but it is similar in that the syntax adds greatly to the poem.
Despite Cummings' affinity for styles and for unusual typography, much of his work is formally traditional; for instance, many of his poems are , and he occasionally made use of the form and . Cummings' poetry often deals with themes of and nature, as well as satire and the relationship of the individual to the masses and to the world. But, while his poetic forms and even themes show a close continuity with the romantic tradition, his work universally shows a particular idiosyncrasy of or way of arranging individual words into larger phrases and sentences. Many of his most striking poems do not involve any typographical or punctuational innovations at all, but purely syntactic ones.
During his lifetime, he published more than 900 poems, along with two novels, several essays, as well as numerous drawings, sketches, and paintings. He is remembered as one of the preeminent voices of poetry.
E. E. Cummings was born in , to Edward and Rebecca Haswell Clarke Cummings. Cummings' father was a professor of and at and later a minister. Raised in a liberal family, Cummings was writing poetry as early as (age 10). His only sibling, a sister, Elizabeth, was born six years after he was.
Cummings' peculiar method of using syntax to convey hidden meaning is extremely effective. The reader does not simply read and forget Cummings' ideas; instead, he must figure out the hidden meaning himself. In doing this, he feels contentment, and thus retains the poem's idea for a more extended period of time. Cummings' ideogram poems are puzzles waiting to be solved.
Cummings first tightly written ideogram was !blac, a very interesting poem. It starts with '!', which seems to be saying that something deserving that exclamation point occurred anterior to the poem, and the poem is trying objectively to describe certain feelings resulting from '!'. "black against white" is an example of such a description in the poem; the clashing colors create a feeling in sync with '!'. Also, why "(whi)" suggests amusement and wonder, another feeling resulting from '!' (Weg 145). Cummings had written a letter concerning !blac to Robert Wenger, author of The Poetry and Prose of E. E. Cummings (see Works Cited). In it, he wrote, "for me, this poem means just what it says . . . and the ! which begins the poem is what might be called and emphatic (=very)." This poem is also concerns the cycle of birth, life, death, and renewal. This is derived from the '.' preceding the last letter. This shows that even though the poem is finished, the circle of life is not, and is ever cycling (Weg 144). Through the poem's shape, !blac also shows a leaf fluttering to the ground. The lines' spacing synchronizes the speed of the reading with that of the leaf at different points in its fall. With its capital 'I's, 'IrlI' also indicates a leaf falling straight down before it hits the ground (147). Reading this poem, one may realize the lone comma on line 12. The poet writes about the sky and a tree, and then a comma intrudes, which makes the reader pause, and realize the new awareness that the comma indicated - that of a falling leaf (145). Lines 1 through 6 are also very important to the poem. Although "black against white" may be referring to the color of the falling leaf in contrast to the bright sky, it is not wrong to assume it means more. As stated above, the poem's theme is the cycle of life, and "black against white" could be indicating life death versus life. It shows that even though a leaf falling may be an indication of death, falling of leaves is an integral part of the whole life cycle of the tree (146). !blac may seem like a simple mess of words, but in reality is much more complex than that.
In his youth Cummings attended the Cambridge Latin High School. Many of his early stories and poems were published in the , the school newspaper.