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E.E. Cummings is without question one of the major poets of the 20th century, and this volume, first published in 1959, is indispensable for every lover of modern lyrical verse. It contains one hundred of Cummings’s wittiest and most profound poems, harvested from thirty-five of the most radically creative years in contemporary American poetry. These poems exhibit all the E.E. Cummings is without question one of the major poets of the 20th century, and this volume, first published in 1959, is indispensable for every lover of modern lyrical verse. It contains one hundred of Cummings’s wittiest and most profound poems, harvested from thirty-five of the most radically creative years in contemporary American poetry. These poems exhibit all the extraordinary lyricism, playfulness, technical ingenuity, and compassion for which Cummings is famous. They demonstrate beautifully his extrapolations from traditional poetic structures and his departures from them, as well as the unique synthesis of lavish imagery and acute artistic precision that has won him the adulation and respect of critics and poetry lovers everywhere.


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E.E. Cummings is without question one of the major poets of the 20th century, and this volume, first published in 1959, is indispensable for every lover of modern lyrical verse. It contains one hundred of Cummings’s wittiest and most profound poems, harvested from thirty-five of the most radically creative years in contemporary American poetry. These poems exhibit all the E.E. Cummings is without question one of the major poets of the 20th century, and this volume, first published in 1959, is indispensable for every lover of modern lyrical verse. It contains one hundred of Cummings’s wittiest and most profound poems, harvested from thirty-five of the most radically creative years in contemporary American poetry. These poems exhibit all the extraordinary lyricism, playfulness, technical ingenuity, and compassion for which Cummings is famous. They demonstrate beautifully his extrapolations from traditional poetic structures and his departures from them, as well as the unique synthesis of lavish imagery and acute artistic precision that has won him the adulation and respect of critics and poetry lovers everywhere.

30 review for 100 Selected Poems

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    “let it go – the smashed word broken open vow or the oath cracked length wise – let it go it was sworn to go let them go – the truthful liars and the false fair friends and the boths and neithers – you must let them go they were born to go let all go – the big small middling tall bigger really the biggest and all things – let all go dear so comes love” “no man,if men are gods;but if gods must be men,the sometimes only man is this (most common,for each anguish is his grief; and,for his joy is more than joy,most rare) a f “let it go – the smashed word broken open vow or the oath cracked length wise – let it go it was sworn to go let them go – the truthful liars and the false fair friends and the boths and neithers – you must let them go they were born to go let all go – the big small middling tall bigger really the biggest and all things – let all go dear so comes love” “no man,if men are gods;but if gods must be men,the sometimes only man is this (most common,for each anguish is his grief; and,for his joy is more than joy,most rare) a fiend,if fiends speak truth;if angels burn by their own generous completely light, an angel;or(as various worlds he’ll spurn rather than fail immeasurable fate) coward,clown,traitor,idiot,dreamer,beast- such was a poet and shall be and is —who’ll solve the depths of horror to defend a sunbeam’s architecture with his life: and carve immortal jungles of despair to hold a mountain’s heartbeat in his hand” “love is more thicker than forget more thinner than recall more seldom than a wave is wet more frequent than to fail it is most mad and moonly and less it shall unbe than all the sea which only is deeper than the sea love is less always than to win less never than alive less bigger than the least begin less littler than forgive it is most sane and sunly and more it cannot die than all the sky which only is higher than the sky” “one's not half two. It's two are halves of one: which halves reintegrating,shall occur no death and any quantity;but than all numerable mosts the actual more minds ignorant of stern miraculous this every truth-beware of heartless them (given the scalpel,they dissect a kiss; or,sold the reason,they undream a dream) one is the song which fiends and angels sing: all murdering lies by mortals told make two. Let liars wilt,repaying life they're loaned; we(by a gift called dying born)must grow deep in dark least ourselves remembering love only rides his year. All lose,whole find”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    For some reason, I had never rated E. E. Cummings. He became the icon for form-twisting poetry, with his name written in lower-case reflecting the way his poems used and abused typography, grammar, and punctuation. I'm a symbol manipulating machine, it's why I'm a computer programmer and why I love to read. But I manipulate symbols within rules, and I love rules: I loved learning the rules of punctuation and spelling and grammar. Knowledge is power, it let me sort the world into right and wrong For some reason, I had never rated E. E. Cummings. He became the icon for form-twisting poetry, with his name written in lower-case reflecting the way his poems used and abused typography, grammar, and punctuation. I'm a symbol manipulating machine, it's why I'm a computer programmer and why I love to read. But I manipulate symbols within rules, and I love rules: I loved learning the rules of punctuation and spelling and grammar. Knowledge is power, it let me sort the world into right and wrong and to put myself on the right side. Cummings, of course, broke the rules. It irritated me in the same way that Apple products irritate me today: it's deliberately broken. It could have be done right, but someone chose not to. For this reason I didn't even look at his poems. I love Auden, his cheek and poignancy, but he stayed well within my tolerance for linguistic deviancy. Then a friend pressed this book into my hand. Actually, she pressed two and then opened them up and showed me a dog-eared page and said something absolutely filthy. I mean, how do you *not* get over your prejudices and read the books? It's been magnificent. Consequently, if you're a serious Cummings fan then you're not going to be able to learn much from this review: it's my first dip into his work, and of course I have the heady dizziness of the newly-in-love. I don't have a lot of critical distinction yet, I'm high because something this wonderful simply exists. My friend said she doesn't try to "make sense" of the poems: she bathes in the poems, stands up, and a few droplets of glistening prose stay on her skin and it's those that she takes with her. Cummings is easy to do this with: his style is deliberately translucent (neither opaque nor transparent) but almost every poem has some bright metaphors or clear lines that ring like crystal. I can bathe and come out dripping in sweet lines too, but my brain is attuned to symbol manipulation. I also try to apart the poems to decode their meaning. I want to know why there's a wrong parenthesis, why there are blank lines, why this sentence makes no sense. I discovered, to my surprise, that I love it. I find it like cryptic crosswords: I'm not good, but I enjoy the process of teasing order from apparent disorder and discovering the concealed intent. I probably should have read Wikipedia and a bunch of Cliffs Notes to see whether I'm "right", but one of the few consolations of age for me is confidence: I'm going to tell you how I approach Cummings and how I see his work. I'll be interested to read later and learn other approaches, but for now here's how I see it. Cummings wants you to work on his poems: reading not a passive act, "jolly good, yes, that's exactly what a summer's day is like". He'll use a seeming stream of consciousness where you have to put yourself into someone else's mind in order to understand what that stream of words means. In one poem it seemed like he took a line of poetry and then put even-numbered words on one line and odd-numbered words on the next line. You can't skim read, you have to stop and frown and think. The metaphor is "paying attention", and Cummings has a high price. But he delivers great value. The violated punctuation and blank lines and runtogether words are not random. For me it is as though you're often in the head of the narrator, someone who isn't composing a formal poem but you're getting a wash of thought, a stream of impressions and reflections. Sometimes those thoughts are crystal clear, sometimes they're jumbled and parenthetical and confused and contradictory. So parentheses and blank lines are pauses, indicating nested clauses or thoughts, but this raw gush of impressions doesn't permit the conscious structuring of those thoughts. They're almost pacing indicators. When I read the poem out loud, I can figure out the structure of the sentences. But reviews don't lend themselves to the slow unwinding of intricate puzzles. If I want to convince you to read these poems, and I do, then I won't do it by explaining how I read them. Cummings soundbites are those glistening lines that shine from each poem, the ones that it you with such force that you reel back and blink, wondering "where did that come from?" Sometimes they're startling metaphors, sometimes they're just beautifully rhythmic statements that capture something essential. the bulge and nuzzle of the sea . As someone who grew up on and near the ocean, I love this description. the world is mud-licious and puddle-wonderful . Beautifully captures the delight kids (and some big kids) take in winter. o sweet spontaneous earth how often have the doting fingers of prurient philosophers pinched and poked thee, has the naughty thumb of science prodded thy beauty . Love the image of the earth as a baby, cheeks pinched by the aunty philosophers. The last line is great too: science, philosophers, religion all assault the earth in various ways but then the majestic earth answerest them only with spring). Nature is the reality, regardless of the stories and officious poking of people. how do you like your blue-eyed boy Mister Death . Comes at the end of a reminiscence on how impressive Buffalo Bill Cody was with horses and guns. I'm not quite sure how to read the question "how do you like your blue-eyed boy"--there's an element of challenge in it, and the juxtaposition of "blue eyed boy" and "Mister Death" is so startling. The Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls are unbeautiful and have comfortable minds . I know that type of unmarried older woman, busy with projects. The last bit is a cracker, too: the Cambridge ladies do not care, above Cambridge if sometimes in its box of sky lavender and cornerless, the moon rattles like a fragment of angry candy. It May Not Always Be So is a beautiful sad statement: if you find someone else, I'll give you my blessing (but still be sad). The last line, revealing the hidden sadness: Then shall i turn my face, and hear one bird sing terribly afar in the lost lands. here is little Effie’s head whose brains are made of gingerbread . Spring is like a perhaps hand . Example of how you have to reread to find the intonation that makes sense: "perhaps" here is the hesitating, parenthetical, cautious "perhaps". The story of the poem works too: that Spring happens slowly, changing things slowly as we look, not breaking anything. I like my body when it is with your body is sublimely erotic. It captures that new sex feeling, the way someone else can make you feel better about your body--can even make your body surprise you. Best line: the shocking fuzz of your electric fur narrowly beating out eyes big love-crumbs. Humanity i love you is so sharp, acid, pointed, barbed, and sour that I love it all. No favourite line, but forever making poems in the lap of death is a beauty. Nobody loses all the time is delightful, simple, accessible. Give this to someone you want to show the humorous side of Cummings to. a pretty girl who naked is is worth a million statues . My sentiments exactly. She being Brand -new is a sly and dirty automobile parable for nookie. I read and reread this, in love with the smut that isn't. the internalexpanding & externalcontracting brakes ftw. A man who had fallen among thieves is all worldly vomit, thieves, citizens, pastures ... and then the last line i put him all into my arms and staggered banged with terror through a million billion trillion stars. We are all staggering banged with terror through a million billion trillion stars. Voices to voices, lip to lip make me cackle out loud at bring on your fireworks,which are a mixed / splendor of piston and of pistil;very well / provided an instant may be fixed / so that it will not rub,like any other pastel. I loved pistil, piston, and pastel. Disappointed he didn't work pistol in there too. next to of course god america captures the meaningless incoherence of cliches. It reminds me of pop art, assembling a new unfamiliar statement from other people's narrow familiar works. my sweet old etcetera I had already seen at university, but forgotten. This makes me laugh every time. I'm grinning as I write this, just remembering the poem. Definitely one of my favourites, the absent-minded narrator and the solid last line are great. In spite of everything seems like a sad person saying goodbye to a dead lover. kiss the pillow, dear, where our heads lived and were. since feeling is first mixes linguistic terms (syntax, paragraph, parenthesis) with love to contrast feeling and thinking. kisses are a better fate than wisdom is good, as is lady i swear by all flowersand I recognize laugh, leaning back in my arms. If I have made my lady intricate is such a self-effacing speaker, it's hard for me not to identify. Beautiful lines: intricate imperfect various things and songs less firm than your body's whitest song and who are so perfectly alive. It's hard not to feel romantic reading some of his poems, and this is one of the more evocative for me. A clown's smirk in the skull of a baboon has a great refrain: i have never loved you dear as i love you now. Some great lines conveying the meaningless of life without the special other: i am a birdcage without any bird, a collar looking for a dog,a kiss without lips;a prayer lacking any knees. If i love you has a great line: mind carefully luminous with innumerable gnomes. somewhere I have never travelled paints the delicacy of affection. you open always petal by petal myself as Spring open and nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals the power of your intense fragility and the perplexing but hypnotic nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands. but if a living dance upon dead minds has two nice phrases: the trivial labelling of punctual brains and Who wields a poem huger than the grave? May i feel said he is another saucy poem, a cheeky parenthesis-filled act from foreplay to consummation. I love that it acknowledges the "I'm holding back, but it's close to being out of my control" negotiation. (He says, hoping it's not just him reading into the poem) "Conceive a man" (no link, sorry) has the great line dark beginnings are his luminous ends. Love's function is to fabricate unknownness catches the wonderful stage of love, how you're passionately curious about the other person and how the decline of curiosity tracks the decline of love (known being wishless;but love,all of wishing). Death (having lost) put on his universe is a captivating first line. The universe as Death's raincoat is an enchanting image. The last lines are sing-song sweet: (and boys and girls have whispered thus and so) and girls with boys to bed will go. Of Ever-Ever Land I speak has (and Ever-Ever Land is a place / that's measured and safe and known / where it's lucky to be unlucky / and the hitler lies down with the cohn) which cracked me up, and ends with for a bad cigar is a woman / but a gland is only a gland. "This little bride & groom" describes a wedding cake, and ends with the jarring & everything is protected by cellophane against anything (because nothing really exists. May my heart always be open to little birds who are the secret of living is a short and sweet love poem, with the fabulous may my mind stroll about hungry and fearless and thirsty and supple. Amen! You shall above all things has a killer last night, oft quoted instead of the subtly lovely Girlboys may nothing more than boygirls need: / i can entirely her only love. The last lines: I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing / than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance. Red rag and pink flag is a short childlike poem with the fabulous description of drunken munters: strut-mince and stink-brag / have all come to town. I think of that when I walk past the human effluvia dribbling out of bars on Courtenay Place. a pretty a day is unremarkable but for a doer a wooer which reminds me of Steve Miller Band's I'm a joker / I'm a smoker / I'm a midnight toker. As freedom is a breakfastfood has the euphonious molehills are from mountains made and breasts will be breasts and thighs will be thighs / deeds cannot dream what dreams can do. A politician is an arse on which everyone has sat, except a man. one's not half two. It's two are halves of one is a great summary of a relationship. "To start, to hesitate, to stop" introduces seemingly random letters in this happy swelling poem. I read it, and frowned, realized there was a word in the letters, and came up with THADE, HEATD, ... before realizing eventually "DEATH". A great example of the cryptic crossword "made you work" aspect of Cummings. But only worth it because the raw input and the shiny lines and the clever juxtaposition are all there: I doubt many other poets could make me work and keep me happy at the same time. Now all the fingers of this tree has the line now you are and i am now and we're a mystery which will never happen again which beautifully captures my simple awe at being alive. Luminous tendril of celestial wish again hits me where I'm awestruck that I'm in love with someone so beautiful, who is made from stardust.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I find reviewing poetry like reviewing a color. If your favorite color is blue, it's hard to explain why it appeals to you. Or why blue is better then red. Expressing the inarticulable, the ability to convey a sense of something beyond words through words, for me, is the greatness of a poet. I first stumbled across cummings in high school in one of those gloss covered, all-encompassing, "LITERATURE" textbooks that public schools are so fond of. And, for whatever reason, e.e. cummings has accompan I find reviewing poetry like reviewing a color. If your favorite color is blue, it's hard to explain why it appeals to you. Or why blue is better then red. Expressing the inarticulable, the ability to convey a sense of something beyond words through words, for me, is the greatness of a poet. I first stumbled across cummings in high school in one of those gloss covered, all-encompassing, "LITERATURE" textbooks that public schools are so fond of. And, for whatever reason, e.e. cummings has accompanied me since. Since my first reading, I find various poems of his serving as signposts throughout my life. Now, possibly out of habit, I continually retreat to him whenever facing change. Though certain poems have resonated for one reason or another more vibrantly at different times, what consistently comforts me is his sense of freedom. Content-wise and structurally. At first I considered it iconoclastic pretension, but I now find his broken cadence and grammatical structure a welcome vehicle for expressing the asymmetrical emotions that govern. I lack the versed depth to critically compare or analyze cummings work. As for what it's given me, 5 stars is probably a poor tribute.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    i didn't realise Cummings wrote mostly in all lower case, leading me to think this book was a misprint or something. took me awhile to truly get into these, but get into them I did!, and found well over half of the poems to be brilliant! such a unique style, that was a great pleasure to read. what a way to get my poetic journey of 2020 off the ground! Some of my faves were - the cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls i like my body when it is with your humanity i love you my sweet old etcetera i didn't realise Cummings wrote mostly in all lower case, leading me to think this book was a misprint or something. took me awhile to truly get into these, but get into them I did!, and found well over half of the poems to be brilliant! such a unique style, that was a great pleasure to read. what a way to get my poetic journey of 2020 off the ground! Some of my faves were - the cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls i like my body when it is with your humanity i love you my sweet old etcetera if i love you love's function is to fabricate unknownness may my heart always be open to little spoke to joe to jack hate blows a bubble of despair into true lovers in each happening of their hearts darling! because my blood can sing the great advantage of being alive

  5. 5 out of 5

    Arah-Lynda

    somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond any experience, your eyes have their silence: in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me, or which i cannot touch because they are too near your slightest look easily will unclose me though i have closed myself as fingers, you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens (touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose or if your wish be to close me, i and my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly, as when the heart of this flower ima somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond any experience, your eyes have their silence: in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me, or which i cannot touch because they are too near your slightest look easily will unclose me though i have closed myself as fingers, you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens (touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose or if your wish be to close me, i and my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly, as when the heart of this flower imagines the snow carefully everywhere descending; nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals the power of your intense fragility: whose texture compels me with the colour of its countries, rendering death and forever with each breathing (i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens; only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands Because mornings are best served with a slice of poetry.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    My first Cummings book (it cost me $1.95 many years ago) and still my favorite. There are so many poems in here which I think are good poems. The general critical consensus seems to be that Cummings was second-rate. Well, for me, he is more engaging than many poets that others fawn over. He was an accomplished sonneteer, though you might not recognize all his sonnets for what they are at first, due to his experiments with orthography. He was a fine erotic poet, and an effective political satiris My first Cummings book (it cost me $1.95 many years ago) and still my favorite. There are so many poems in here which I think are good poems. The general critical consensus seems to be that Cummings was second-rate. Well, for me, he is more engaging than many poets that others fawn over. He was an accomplished sonneteer, though you might not recognize all his sonnets for what they are at first, due to his experiments with orthography. He was a fine erotic poet, and an effective political satirist. He had variety. He didn't write poem after poem that sounded like the same monotonous droning of Portentous Hush. Also, he made his living entirely through his writing, except for one brief stint as a guest professor at Harvard. Unlike many poets of today, academia was not his ambition. Perhaps that's one of the reasons he's not placed higher in the pantheon.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I opened POETRY month with one that's been on my shelf for awhile! 100 Selected Poems was my first full-length collection by Cummings, the well-known 20th-century American poet. I enjoyed his form and syntax play, with a variety of themes: nature, erotica, religious, to everyday observational. I opened POETRY month with one that's been on my shelf for awhile! 100 Selected Poems was my first full-length collection by Cummings, the well-known 20th-century American poet. I enjoyed his form and syntax play, with a variety of themes: nature, erotica, religious, to everyday observational.

  8. 4 out of 5

    John

    As I finished this slim book, I puzzled over how to best explain how it makes me feel. I got this image in my head: If I were stranded on a deserted island and allowed to take one book with me, this book would be in my top five of final, possible picks. If I picked this book to take with me, when someone found me ten years later, I would still be puzzling over some of the meaning of the poems; I would still be kept comfortably happy, sad, shy, engaged, and peaceful by the texture, the emotion of As I finished this slim book, I puzzled over how to best explain how it makes me feel. I got this image in my head: If I were stranded on a deserted island and allowed to take one book with me, this book would be in my top five of final, possible picks. If I picked this book to take with me, when someone found me ten years later, I would still be puzzling over some of the meaning of the poems; I would still be kept comfortably happy, sad, shy, engaged, and peaceful by the texture, the emotion of these poems; I would still be engaging with and dissecting these 100 poems; I would have been driven quite insane in those ten years by these poems. Another inroad: When I read poetry, I have a tendency to rate the poems on the fly with little stars in the margins. This allows me to skim back through a volume later and to immediately find something that engaged me before. There are dozens and dozens of six, seven, and eight star rating scattered throughout this book. My scale used to go only to five. I think I have sufficiently explained how this volume makes me feel. Yet I haven't said a word about the poems themselves. What's left to say? They do all that poetry should do; they will challenge you intellectually, emotionally, and at many levels of language. They ask you deep philosophical questions, and then they shift gears into soaring emotions. They beg you to parse them one way, then cleverly show you another way to read each sentence even as you try to mark out your thoughts. The poems lend themselves to conversation, to analysis, and they will reward you over and over. As I've done with a few other reviews at this point, I'll share something that I liked best from the book. I won't type out the entire poem, but the first part of this one has a nice image that I think sells cummings well: From 95 i thank You God for most this amazing day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ruxandra (4fără15)

    some of these poems abounded in clichés, a few of them were actually genius, but way too many just felt... lazy. i’d definitely love to read more of his poetry though! no time ago or else a life walking in the dark i met christ jesus) my heart flopped over and lay still while he passed(as close as i’m to you yes closer made of nothing except loneliness

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sunny

    I’m not sure I was clever enough to understand what EE Cummings had to say in these 100 poems of his. Most of them are hardly a page long and very short but like my aversion of short stories there was something in this book of short poems that just didn’t click with me. I remember opening a Brian Transeaux (I think) album and reading the following excerpt from a Cumming’s poem and being blown away as an 18 year old: “Deeds cannot dream what dreams can do Time is a tree (this life is one leaf) But l I’m not sure I was clever enough to understand what EE Cummings had to say in these 100 poems of his. Most of them are hardly a page long and very short but like my aversion of short stories there was something in this book of short poems that just didn’t click with me. I remember opening a Brian Transeaux (I think) album and reading the following excerpt from a Cumming’s poem and being blown away as an 18 year old: “Deeds cannot dream what dreams can do Time is a tree (this life is one leaf) But love is the sky, and I am for you Just so long and long enough” There were a few other poems which were pretty good but I just really didn’t connect with most of the others. It’s a short book which you could probably rattle out in a few hours.

  11. 5 out of 5

    izzy

    poetry of the week #10 #28: "we are for each other: then / laugh, leaning back in my arm / for life’s not a paragraph / And death i think is no parenthesis" e. e. cummings is, one could say, the blueprint for famous modern poets. He is one of the pioneers of the free-form style, which of course is used today by famous poets like Rupi Kaur or any of the famous slam poets. As a lover of modern, freeform poetry, I wanted to explore it’s origins. #13: “who knows if the moon’s / A balloon,coming out of poetry of the week #10 #28: "we are for each other: then / laugh, leaning back in my arm / for life’s not a paragraph / And death i think is no parenthesis" e. e. cummings is, one could say, the blueprint for famous modern poets. He is one of the pioneers of the free-form style, which of course is used today by famous poets like Rupi Kaur or any of the famous slam poets. As a lover of modern, freeform poetry, I wanted to explore it’s origins. #13: “who knows if the moon’s / A balloon,coming out of a keen city / In the sky-filled with pretty people?” Cummings plays fast and loose with all manner of convention, forgoing traditional grammatical and sentence structures for his own twisty turning stanzas and phrasing. Punctuation is putty in his hands, with parentheses missing its pair and commas ending sentences. Some poems rhyme, including some sonnets and a limerick, while others are free form, some of the first to do so. #31: "if we love each (shyly) / other, what clouds do or Silently / Flowers resembles beauty / less than our breathing” Content matter, of course, ranges wildly, from love poems (tracing personal relationships and interrogating the concept itself), raging at modern society and America, childhood, what manhood/fatherhood means, and what seems to be nonsense/narrative poems. It’s funny that so many poems scoff at social mores/society, since later in his life cummings was a staunch supporter of McCarthy. #53: "even if it’s sunday may i be wrong / for whenever men are right they are not young” Obviously, these poems are historical masterpieces in their own right, and cummings is celebrated. So these poems were, objectively, very good. On a personal level, while I greatly enjoyed the collection as a whole, I felt as though some of it went way over my head, or that it took extra effort to read the backwards-forwards phrasing. Not really a strike against the collection's literary merit, but it did affect my experience reading. 58: ”ye! Yet the gods are dull and the dull are the damned”

  12. 5 out of 5

    Beatrice

    Not to be disrespectful or anything, but sometimes I had the feeling e.e.cummings just smashed his forehead on his typewriter and called it poetry. My favorite example? brIght bRight s??? big (soft) soft near calm (Bright) calm st?? holy (soft briGth deep) yeS near sta? calm star big yEs alone (wHo Yes near deep whO big alone soft near deep calm deep ????Ht????T) Who(holy alone)holy(alone holy)alone To me, this is meme material, not poetry. Poetry is supposed to make you feel something, but I just felt deceived Not to be disrespectful or anything, but sometimes I had the feeling e.e.cummings just smashed his forehead on his typewriter and called it poetry. My favorite example? brIght bRight s??? big (soft) soft near calm (Bright) calm st?? holy (soft briGth deep) yeS near sta? calm star big yEs alone (wHo Yes near deep whO big alone soft near deep calm deep ????Ht????T) Who(holy alone)holy(alone holy)alone To me, this is meme material, not poetry. Poetry is supposed to make you feel something, but I just felt deceived reading this collection, because I couldn't understand which was the aim of the poet, or the theme, or the reason behind the writing. And the writing style. Oh boy, the only time I saw so many parenthesis on my page was doing math homework. And in my middle-grade journal, where I wrote stuff like: S(he) be(lie)ve(d) I am open to modern poetry and its innovation, but it was like being weird for weird's sake. Or, to say it in a form that Cummings would have enjoyed: Maybe Im toodumb- or tooyoung??? 2 underStand this col(lection) or maybe I'm Shallow like that Lady GaGa song (anyway Im sorry) The only reason I gave it two stars instead of one is that I did enjoy 2 poems (2 of 100!) and I genuinely think that e.e.cummings would have got along with my favorite forest king, Walt Whitman. They would have spent entire DAYS drooling over leaves of grass and indigo skies. And, by the way, if you all keep bashing on Rupi Kaur and Amanda Lovelace for their Tumblr poetry, remember that Cummings was the first one randomly hitting the enter key to make it sound ~deeper~ so stop the hypocrisy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachael Quinn

    Ever since my modern literature class in college, I've kind of had a thing against Cummings. I hated his style. As a grammar nazi, it completely confused me. When the professor suggested that we read the poems aloud, I scoffed. I loved poetry and I never had to read it aloud before so why should I now? However, that professor was correct. When I came across this book on one of my lists, I told myself that I could suffer through just 100 poems. I didn't suffer through them at all, though. It was po Ever since my modern literature class in college, I've kind of had a thing against Cummings. I hated his style. As a grammar nazi, it completely confused me. When the professor suggested that we read the poems aloud, I scoffed. I loved poetry and I never had to read it aloud before so why should I now? However, that professor was correct. When I came across this book on one of my lists, I told myself that I could suffer through just 100 poems. I didn't suffer through them at all, though. It was poem 3 that hooked me. "when god lets my body be//From each brave eye shall sprout a tree..." I read it through once. I read it through twice. I waited for my boyfriend to get home from work and read it to him. I loved it. It perfectly expressed something that I had been thinking about for a while. I felt validated. After that, I started writing down first lines of poems I liked but there were too many. How could I have been so very wrong?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Carolina Carriço

    There were a few I really enjoyed, some I didn't feel anything about, and there even a couple I couldn't understand anything about. I feel like I could read these again in a couple of years and it would be a completely different experience. There were a few I really enjoyed, some I didn't feel anything about, and there even a couple I couldn't understand anything about. I feel like I could read these again in a couple of years and it would be a completely different experience.

  15. 5 out of 5

    India

    I’m learning that there’s not a lot of “classic poets” that I actually enjoy, I just keep reading them cuz I feel like I’m supposed to like them, wherever that means. Anyway, there were a couple of good poems, but I wasn’t a huge fan overall.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Taka

    I had always thought Cummings was all about punctuation and syntax gimmicks, but reading this slim volume made me reevaluate his poetry. Sure, there are insufferable poems included here that might just be pure poetic masturbation, but when he's successful—that is, when he manages to use those syntactical and punctuation quirks as stepping stones to transcend ordinary meaning—he reaches a depth that can't be reached otherwise, and the effect is often one of chilling delight, from wonderfully cryp I had always thought Cummings was all about punctuation and syntax gimmicks, but reading this slim volume made me reevaluate his poetry. Sure, there are insufferable poems included here that might just be pure poetic masturbation, but when he's successful—that is, when he manages to use those syntactical and punctuation quirks as stepping stones to transcend ordinary meaning—he reaches a depth that can't be reached otherwise, and the effect is often one of chilling delight, from wonderfully cryptic yet perfectly simple "for love are in we am in i are in you" and nonsensical but charmingly musical "what if a much of a which of a wind..." to odd but darkly compelling "it is most mad and moonly / and less it shall unbe" and breathlessly triumphant "Love only has ever been,is,and will ever be,So." I don't know if I want to read all his opus, but I'm still glad I read this collection and found such a voice in American poetry: idiosyncratic, sometimes profound, always passionate.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Saurav Borah

    E.E. Cummings is definitely one of my favorite Poets 🙌 "Twice I have lived forever in a smile"- E.E. Cummings E.E. Cummings is definitely one of my favorite Poets 🙌 "Twice I have lived forever in a smile"- E.E. Cummings

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    may my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living whatever they sing is better than to know and if men should not hear them men are old may my mind stroll about hungry and fearless and thirsty and supple and even if it's sunday may i be wrong for whenever men are right they are not young and may myself do nothing usefully and love yourself so more than truly there's never been quite such a fool who could fail pulling all the sky over him with one smile --- While reading this, I was co may my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living whatever they sing is better than to know and if men should not hear them men are old may my mind stroll about hungry and fearless and thirsty and supple and even if it's sunday may i be wrong for whenever men are right they are not young and may myself do nothing usefully and love yourself so more than truly there's never been quite such a fool who could fail pulling all the sky over him with one smile --- While reading this, I was constantly divided between "ohh, I love this!" and "ehm, okay, now what is going on?" I just don't think that all of e. e. cummings' work is for me. There were some true masterpieces in the book though, and I really loved the way he played with syntax and interpunction. The themes of his poems range from love to humanity, and I think that's why I may like the poems better when I'm older and have experienced more. I shall have to hold on to the book and give it another chance later. --- who knows if the moon's a balloon,coming out of a keen city in the sky - filled with pretty people? (and if you and i should get into it,if they should take me and take you into their balloon, why then we'd go up higher with all the pretty people than houses and steeples and clouds: go sailing away and away sailing into a keen city which nobody's ever visited,where always it's Spring)and everyone's in love and flowers pick themselves --- when serpents bargain for the right to squirm and the sun strikes to gain a living wage - when thorns regard their roses wth alarm and rainbows are insured against old age when every thrush may sing no new moon in if all screech-owls have not okayed his voice -and any wave signs on the dotted line or else an ocean is compelled to close when the oak begs permission of the birch to make an acorn - valleys accuse their mountains of having altitude - and march denounces april as a saboteur then we'll believe in that incredible unanimal mankind (and not until)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cari

    My rating of works of poetry are always purely based on my personal enjoyment of them and are never based on the skill of the writing. To me, poetry is all about perception and whether or not the words speak to you. 100 Selected Poems proves that E.E. Cummings was a master manipulator of words. His voice in these poems was so witty and clever and sometimes I would have to take a lengthy pause at the end of a piece before it would click and I'd say "I see what he did there!". While being unique a My rating of works of poetry are always purely based on my personal enjoyment of them and are never based on the skill of the writing. To me, poetry is all about perception and whether or not the words speak to you. 100 Selected Poems proves that E.E. Cummings was a master manipulator of words. His voice in these poems was so witty and clever and sometimes I would have to take a lengthy pause at the end of a piece before it would click and I'd say "I see what he did there!". While being unique and brilliant, I just didn't see much here that really struck me on a personal level (my whole reason for reading poetry)! There were a few lines I was particularly fond of though: "...nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands" "if there are heavens, then my mother will (all by herself) have one. It will not be a pansy heaven nor a fragile heaven of lillies-of-the-valley but it will be a heaven of blackred roses..." And here from my favorite, poem #8: "it may not always be so; and I say that if your lips, which I have loved, should touch another's, and your dear strong fingers clutch his heart, as mine in time not far away... ...if this should be, I say if this should be-- you of my heart, send me a little word; that I may go unto him, and take his hands, saying, Accept all happiness from me..."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Dante

    I picked up an old copy from my husband's library on a whim. I haven't read e.e. cummings since high school and at the time I remember being both confused and uninterested. Reading it now, I'm much less confused but even more uninterested. e.e. cummings is known in the canon for being formally experimental, so I was quite surprised by just how dated this collection feels. For one thing, even though he does do weird experimentation with syntax (verbs are nouns, nouns are verbs, generous spacing, o I picked up an old copy from my husband's library on a whim. I haven't read e.e. cummings since high school and at the time I remember being both confused and uninterested. Reading it now, I'm much less confused but even more uninterested. e.e. cummings is known in the canon for being formally experimental, so I was quite surprised by just how dated this collection feels. For one thing, even though he does do weird experimentation with syntax (verbs are nouns, nouns are verbs, generous spacing, or no spacing at all, hanging parentheses), he is still quite traditional in terms of meter, rhyme, and sound. The images invoked are often quite cliche too, which was also surprising - a lot of spring and flowers, women as flowers, etc. They lack imagination and color. The straight male gaze is front and center here and never leaves - beauty is always described as feminine, white like ivory and with blue eyes. Very Aryan. Racial slurs are used that are meant to degrade, not as critique. In the year 2020, this is hard to swallow. I really didn't like this collection at all. There are a few phrases throughout that ring beautifully - "mud-luscious," "my blood approves," and "dreamslender exquisite," for example. However, these are so small in the grand scheme, and this ultimately doesn't save these 100 poems from feeling old, irrelevant, and bloodless. I felt nothing but annoyance.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stef Rozitis

    It's hard to rate an anthology of poetry because there were individual poems in there that I drop-dead loved, others I just liked. There were others I did not like at all and there were some I had trouble understanding. Of the ones I had trouble understanding there were some that I figured if I was a little smarter, or better read or had more similar cultural capital to the poet maybe I would have had a chance, but there were some I suspected the poet was just being subjective to the point of in It's hard to rate an anthology of poetry because there were individual poems in there that I drop-dead loved, others I just liked. There were others I did not like at all and there were some I had trouble understanding. Of the ones I had trouble understanding there were some that I figured if I was a little smarter, or better read or had more similar cultural capital to the poet maybe I would have had a chance, but there were some I suspected the poet was just being subjective to the point of incoherence (which is pretty self-indulgent). The way he used language and punctuation was obviously meant to be critical or creative or something (and in the better poems brought in a whole beautifully sarcastic flavour to it). But the thing about breaking the rules of communication- what's the point if you lose coherence and intelligibility? Like the emperor's new clothes I suppose I am meant to nod and smile and pretend I understand what he did. But a lot of the time I didn't. And I am yet to be convinced the poet himself knew some of the time as well.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    Something I thought I would like, but ended up just breezing and looking at the poems. I know some people love this guys stuff, but I couldn't really get into it, at least some of them looked nice. To be honest, I'm not sure what I just read. Was that even a langue or a list of random words? Sorry, but this is not my kind of poetry. Maybe if I was more into poetry I'd like this stuff. Oh well. Something I thought I would like, but ended up just breezing and looking at the poems. I know some people love this guys stuff, but I couldn't really get into it, at least some of them looked nice. To be honest, I'm not sure what I just read. Was that even a langue or a list of random words? Sorry, but this is not my kind of poetry. Maybe if I was more into poetry I'd like this stuff. Oh well.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Edita

    let it go – the smashed word broken open vow or the oath cracked length wise – let it go it was sworn to go let them go – the truthful liars and the false fair friends and the boths and neithers – you must let them go they were born to go let all go – the big small middling tall bigger really the biggest and all things – let all go dear so comes love

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Nicole Wagner

    I've only read a few of his poems for my literature class but wow, he's one of my favorites. I love his wording. Absolutely beautiful. I actually read them in March 2016 but it's poems within my LIT book that I counted as read already :) I've only read a few of his poems for my literature class but wow, he's one of my favorites. I love his wording. Absolutely beautiful. I actually read them in March 2016 but it's poems within my LIT book that I counted as read already :)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Eli

    I don't like his style. There were some poems I really enjoyed. I would probably like this more if I took more time to study it later in my life, but there's a lot more to read in the world. I don't like his style. There were some poems I really enjoyed. I would probably like this more if I took more time to study it later in my life, but there's a lot more to read in the world.

  26. 5 out of 5

    IrritableSatirist

    Since I already wrote a review that goes into cummings' poetry (here), I'm gonna just compared that edition with this one. Selected Poems is an exceptional introductory to the various forms that e. e. cummings experimented with. It includes many of his more readable and traditional stuff, to more experimental stuff, and even two sections dedicated to his visual poetry. The poems are all divvied up into twelve sections, each of which begins with helpful little introduction. In that regard, if you Since I already wrote a review that goes into cummings' poetry (here), I'm gonna just compared that edition with this one. Selected Poems is an exceptional introductory to the various forms that e. e. cummings experimented with. It includes many of his more readable and traditional stuff, to more experimental stuff, and even two sections dedicated to his visual poetry. The poems are all divvied up into twelve sections, each of which begins with helpful little introduction. In that regard, if you are interested in sampling cummings with some variety and helpful commentary, Selected Poetry is strongly recommended. On the other hand, 100 Selected Poems is a collection of the more readable and traditional stuff. Many of the poems in it are also found in Selected Poems, and while 100 Selected Poems brings some other poems to the table, I found they aren't as impactful as the ones found in Selected Poems. Also absent from 100 Selected Poems are any introductions or commentaries, as well as some of cummings' most powerful poems, such as "at the head of this street a gasping organ is waving moth-eaten," "the dirty colours of her kiss have just," and "i am a little church(no great cathedral)". Both editions also lack "i carry your heart with me(i carry it in," a horrible oversight from both editors. At the end of the day, if you want something that introduces you more thoroughly to cummings, definitely read Selected Poems, but if you find the more experimental stuff and the visual poetry too unwelcoming, then 100 Selected Poems is probably the way to go (although you're missing out).

  27. 4 out of 5

    niri

    this cover is terrible and this collection doesn't have my faves i carry your heart or dive for dreams unfortunately but i love it this cover is terrible and this collection doesn't have my faves i carry your heart or dive for dreams unfortunately but i love it

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeana

    Some poems were beautiful and made me cry; some were so confusing I’m still not sure what I read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    lucy Ü

    a beautiful little book... eloquent words and a simple decadence to each piece of writing. i enjoyed it very much.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eugenea Pollock

    Every time I read this collection of verses, I find new favorites and gain new understanding of cummings’s work. This time, one that spoke to me was #99– “and now you are and I am now and we’re a mystery which will never happen again, a miracle which has never happened before— and shining this our now must come to then”

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