15 February 2010
Studying poetry this week was a refreshing break from all of those short stories and essays. To be honest, a few short essays and stories are nice sometimes, but one every single day is a bit overwhelming. In fact, it makes me hate them. Just to be honest. For these reasons, although I already enjoy studying poetry, our brief poetry studies this week were even more enjoyable.
My favorite poem we studied was “Since Feeling is First” by E.E. Cummings (I was not quite sure what to capitalize in his name or poem, so I just went with what felt right. I’m sure Mr. Cummings would have been proud.) I really appreciated the point of this poem: little details do not make life what it is; feelings make life what it is. Taking a more straightforward look at the poem, I admire the fact that such a famous writer would mock syntax and punctuation. As a writer, I like proper syntax and grammar to a degree. I hate, however, when a perfectly good essay is marked down several points for small, debatable grammar errors.
Just how I would assume Cummings feels, I believe that writing should be judged more on the argument and how it is supported rather than if there should have been a colon instead of a comma. If the proper effect is achieved, then incorrect grammar or punctuation should be excused. Cummings is a perfect case in point for this argument: he goes out of his way to make grammar and punctuation errors in order to create a certain effect. The fact that his errors create very effective writing that is completely comprehendible and certainly enjoyable shows that grammar and punctuation are really not that important anyway.
Another interesting thought that entered my brain while writing the above argument was that if Cummings uses mistakes to shape his arguments, then aren’t the rules he breaks crucial to his writing style? Cummings writes rebelliously against grammar, punctuation, syntax, and all the other rules of writing. In “Since Feeling is First,” he essentially says that if we pay too much attention to those things, we not only miss the point of the writing, but he point of life as well. In order for his point to be valid, or exist at all, don’t these writing rules need to exist? In order to achieve the rebellious effect his incorrect grammar creates, don’t these rules need to be there in order to be broken?
It seems that, whether Cummings was aware of it as I am almost sure he was, he and his writing exist in a love-hate relationship with writing rules.
Diverting the attention back to the poem, the poem’s last two lines are quite possibly two of my favorite lines of all time. These two lines read “for life’s not a paragraph / And death i think is no parenthesis” (Cummings 15-16). The simplicity of this anti-metaphor, if you will, makes this profound statement seem obvious yet deep. Like the rest of the poem, you could probably think about it for hours.