E.E. Cummings, Valentine

By Dana LevinFebruary 14, 2013

    E.E. Cummings, Valentine

    IT’S A KNEE-JERK RESPONSE: say “love poem” and I’ll say “E.E. Cummings,” every single time. Go ahead, try and convince me: how that combination of twee and typographic trick should relegate cummings to the side-bar of serious, the backpacks of the under-20 set, the valentines of precocious teens. Yes, I’ll say?because that’s what love does: calls us back to our adolescent selves, heart and pelvis thrumming. At 16 I couldn’t get enough of the poem’s last parenthetical, how it perfectly enacted the very thing it described. And yes, it was a teen crush, a poet, who gave me that poem, in the first book of poetry I would ever own. Eros, meet Mimesis: a love story for all time.

    — Dana Levin

    E.E. Cummings, “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]”

    i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

    my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

    i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

    by only me is your doing,my darling)

         i fear

    no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

    no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

    and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

    and whatever a sun will always sing is you

    here is the deepest secret nobody knows

    (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

    and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

    higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

    and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

    i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

    [more Valentine's Day poems]

    LARB Contributor

    Dana Levin is the author of In the Surgical Theatre, Wedding Day, and Sky Burial, which was noted for 2011 year-end honors by The New Yorker, the San Francisco Chronicle, Library Journal, and Coldfront Magazine. A recipient of fellowships from the Rona Jaffe, Whiting and Guggenheim Foundations, Levin chairs the Creative Writing and Literature Department at Santa Fe University of Art and Design.


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