There’s certainly nothing particularly new about the ideas expressed in cummings’ “101” but I still love the way he says them, exhibiting both his endearing sense of humor and the ambiguity typical of his best poems.
You gotta love a poem that begins “Humanity i love you” and ends “Humanity i hate you.” Surely, somewhere between those two extremes must lie the truth, or, at least, something that will pass as the truth:
Humanity i love you
because you would rather black the boots of
success than enquire whose soul dangles from his
watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both
parties and because you
unflinchingly applaud all
songs containing the words country home and
mother when sung at the old howard
Humanity i love you because
when you’re hard up you pawn your
intelligence to buy a drink and when
you’re flush pride keeps
you from the pawn shop and
because you are continually committing
nuisances but more
especially in your own house
Humanity i love you because you
are perpetually putting the secret of
life in your pants and forgetting
it’s there and sitting down
and because you are
forever making poems in the lap
of death Humanity
i hate you
Those of us who’ve spent our lives trying to improve society (I’m pretty sure I wasn’t teaching for the money) seem oblivious to the fact that human nature is remarkably resistant to change. Although this poem was written at the beginning of the 20th Century, it certainly seems as true today as the day it was written.
The media, and, thus, society is fixated on Success and those who’ve attained it, no matter how many people they’ve betrayed on their trip to the top.
Even in a society as depraved as our own, “country,” “home,” and “mother” still seem to have the ability to launch songsters to the top of the pops ladder.
And judging from the popularity of some seriously dumb beer commercials, more than a few young people have pawned their “intelligence to buy a drink.”
It’s almost enough to make you question why you continue to love the human race, isn’t it?