Another genius in Cambridge Mass…


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It’s the birthday of E.E. Cummings , born Edward Estlin Cummings in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1894). His poems were experimental and he followed his own grammar rules, but they were about simple subjects — love, nature, children, sex — and people liked that. When he died in 1962, he was the second most read poet in the country, after Robert Frost.

His father, also named Edward, was a Harvard professor-turned-Unitarian minister, a well-known public figure. Cummings said, “My father is the principal figure of my earliest remembered life. […] His illimitable love was the axis of my being.” He described his father: “He was a New Hampshire man, 6 foot 2, a crack shot and a famous fly-fisherman & a firstrate sailor (his sloop was named The Actress) & a woodsman who could find his way through forests primeval without a compass & a canoeist who’d still paddle you up to a deer without ruffling the surface of a pond & an ornithologist & taxidermist & (when he gave up hunting) an expert photographer & an actor who portrayed Julius Caesar in Sanders Theatre & a painter (both in oils & watercolors) […] & a plumber who just for the fun of it installed his own waterworks & (while still at Harvard) a teacher with small use for professors […] a preacher who horribly shocked his pewholders by crying ‘the kingdom of Heaven is no spiritual roofgarden: it’s inside you’ & my father had the first telephone in Cambridge […] & my father was a servant of the people who fought Boston’s biggest & crookedest politician fiercely all day & a few evenings later sat down with him cheerfully at the Rotary Club & my father’s voice was so magnificent that he was called on to impersonate God from Beacon Hill (he was heard all over the Common).”

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