Date of Award

1973

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

First Advisor

Robert W. Daniel

Second Advisor

William Klein

Third Advisor

Frederick Turner

Abstract

E. E. Cummings is a poet who has been neglected by critics in the presence of such men as T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens and Ezra Pound. But the variety, creativity, ardent experimentalism and striking lyricism of Cummings' work demand the reader's attention. His unusual habits of typography, word order and grammatical usage have driven critics away with elicited responses which label his work vague, transparent, and impenetrably personal.

The purpose of this paper is to disprove these claims by explaining certain aspects of Cummings' experimentalism. I will discuss first several of his typographical and descriptive idiosyncrasies. Next I will focus on a single device, given the name "metonymy" by Robert E. Maurer, which carries the weight of many of the ethical ideas of the poems. In Chapter 3 I describe the range of rhetorical structures which Cummings employs to aid the reader in apprehending the role of Cummings' speakers. Finally, to drive home the fact that the reader can appreciate he unusual style of Cummings, I discuss the idea of time in connection with certain of Cummings' love poems. The quantity of verse written by Cummings virtually prohibits a comprehensive study of the poems, but I hope by this paper to bring to light some of the more important issues involved in the appreciation of the poems, and assert strongly that the result of Cummings' experimentalism is clarity and force, not impenetrability.

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