The sexagenarian Edward Estlin Cummings gives us poems of remarkable versatility and joy. The volume begins with autumn and ends with spring. In between we have songs and sonnets and serene calligraphy, urbanity and sarcasm and protest against tyranny, we have childlike wonder at a distant star and the ultranecessary reminder that "not all matterings of mind equal one violet."
We have clarity, we have acceptance of the universe as it appears:
now air is air and thing is thing:no bliss
of heavenly earth beguiles our spirits,whose
miraculously disenchanted eyes
live the magnificent honesty of space.
We have the bluejay as "beautiful anarchist" and the slender eulogy for "this man's heart" who was "true to his earth" and not interested in "anyone's world." We have the famous (and to our mind unsplendid) jingle about "maggie and milly and molly and may."
We have apothegms: "dive for dreams / or a slogan may topple you"; we have "first robin the" and his message "april hello," and we have the limitless grace of "out of the lie of no."
Poems 87 through 95 -- with perhaps one exception -- are immortal. It bears repeating: immortal.
There are a few typographical poems that don't quite work, and a few ballad-jingles where Cummings conceals his meaning rather too well, but all in all, the book called "95 poems" is a splendour and an ineffably graceful achievement, reminding us that:
--saharas have their centuries,ten thousand
of which are smaller than a rose's moment
(and, from the same poem, the 11th)
... there is a time for timelessness