The Birth of Modern Poetry

The Birth of Modern Poetry

E. E. Cummings is an American poet who had witnessed two world wars. He had lived in a time period when “the old world” was completely destroyed and “the new world” made its existence clearly felt with all its might: 1894-1962. He had continued to produce until the day he died. He had totally rejected the understanding of art before his time in both poetry and painting.

We see a different kind of understanding and practice of art in Cummings. This is actually the effective factor of why his poems are much-debated. We do not only encounter innovations in style in him. His actual innovation is seen in the contents. His experiments with the style rather than with the contents were mostly discussed during the period he had lived. It is still a bit of the same. When his name is mentioned, his use of lower case letters, different sentence structure, fabrication of new words, his unusual typography and calligraphy come to mind. When the words are examined for their sub-meanings, one can capture the logic behind these innovations and different practices in style. Or when the meaning and the function of this difference in style are questioned, a dialog begins with the poetry of Cummings.

Cummings is a powerful poet. He interprets the world, events, persons, politics, and human through a poet’s perspective. He was well aware of the broken world before, during, and after the World War I. Because he was well aware of the broken semantic world. The broken semantic world meant the broken faith, thought, and emotional worlds. Modernism was promising a paradise on earth to humanity. However, during the World War I, it appeared that this promise could not be realized and during the World War II, there was no doubt about it. Not only the countries, homes, and cities of humans were destroyed during the wars, but also their believes were. Humans could not act upon emotions, thoughts, and believes that dragged societies to two world wars. This situation was far beyond hopelessness or faithlessness. Therefore the poet had to fabricate new meanings instead of those that were lost so the humanity could breath again. He could only do this through a new style, content, narration, and music.

I am not trying to say that the poetry of Cummings is only a pursuit of meaning. He also wrote a poem that reflects the pain experienced. A poet does not start playing around with the grammar rules and words out of the blue. In addition, Cummings had written a poem that would heal the deep wounds that were inflicted in the people’s conscience and spirituality.

Translated by Samet Köse, a selection of poems, which includes Cummings’ drawings and essays, E. E. Cummings (Ketebe Publications, 2019) reflects very well this transformation, quest for meaning, the reasoning with “the new world”, which was about to be created. Cummings is an emotional poet. He certainly did not make epic poetry; however, his lyric poetry is as successful as epic poetry to reflect the society and history. Because we can read the transition of history and society, and reflections of change that can be seen in emotions. The information, footnotes, and explanations presented by the translator in the “Introduction” contributed well to the book, making the readers’ job easier.

The Library of the Author

– Nahid Sırrı Örik, Sultan Hamid Düşerken, Oğlak Publications

– Memduh Şevket Esendal, Mendil Altında, Bilgi Publishing House

– Hafız-ı Şirazi, Hafız Divanı, İş Bankası Kültür Publications

– W. Montgomery Watt, Hazreti Muhammed, İletişim Publications