“may my heart always be open to little”

Although there’s often a spiritual note to cumming’s poems, that note becomes much louder in the last poems in E.E. Cummings: Collected Poems, beginning, perhaps, with this one:


Jehovah buried,Satan dead,
do fearers worship Much and Quick;
badness not being felt as bad,
itself thinks goodness what is meek;
obey says toc,submit says tic,
Eternity’s a Five Year Plan:
if Joy with Pain shall hang in hock
who dares to call himself a man?

go dreamless knaves on Shadows fed,
your Harry’s Tom,your Tom is Dick;
while Gadgets murder squawk and add,
the cult of Same is all the chic;
by instruments,both span and spic,
are justly measured Spic and Span:
to kiss the mike if Jew turn kike
who dares to call himself a man?

loudly for Truth have liars pled,
their heels for Freedom slaves will click;
where Boobs are holy,poets mad,
illustrious punks of Progress shriek;
when Souls are outlawed,Hearts are sick,
Hearts being sick,Minds nothing can:
if Hate’s a game and Love’s a fuck
who dares to call himself a man?

King Christ,this world is all aleak;
and lifepreservers there are none:
and waves which only He may walk
Who dares to call Himself a man.

Although I wouldn’t expect to hear this in any of the churches I’ve attended, few, far-far-between, it still has a sermon-LIKE ring to it. I suppose you might argue that it’s a typical sermon calling sinners back to the TRUE faith, but I don’t think this is the true FAITH most churches declare. In fact, it seems to be attacking the hypocrisy of most Sunday-Only-Christians, turned to the worship of “Much and Quick,” “Eternity’s A Five Year Plan,” become “dreamless knaves on “Shadows fed.”

Our ARK is beginning to leak, and this time King Christ isn’t here to offer “life preservers” because “Boobs are holy,” “poets mad.”

Now, if that were the best religious poem in the section, I wouldn’t be considering ordering a new copy of E.E. Cummings: Complete Poems 1904-1962, because it turns out the Collected Poems I bought in ’60 or ’61 ends with poems written in 1938 or so. No, the notes introduced in


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

obviously have much more appeal to me, NOW, though, unremarkably, perhaps, I made no note of it when I read it in college. After all, how could He Who Talks to Small Birds not love a poem with a first stanza like that? It’s obvious i’ve got to see what he wrote in the last twenty five years of his life. The Complete Poems contains twice as many poems as this Collected Poems.

7 thoughts on ““may my heart always be open to little””

  1. Loren,
    First, I’m so glad you must be feeling a little better. Hope all is well.

    I love your recent commentaries on Cummings – you’ve sent me back to the little ‘selected’ I have. I didn’t know the two poems above but I think they are wonderful.


  2. no little thing to have you back. hope you are on the mend. the clouds over commencement bay are wild today.

  3. Good to know you are feeling well enough to write on your blog again. Poetry about hearts being open to little birds is good medicine for these trying times.

  4. I’m so glad you are well enough to post again. You’ve chosen two interesting poems here. The language in the first is surprisingly raw. I like the absolute freedom he grants himself, and how it reminds me that I self-edit. The first stanza of the second poem is just perfect. Little birds, yes.

  5. I’m glad you’re feeling better, too.
    Not really sure what to make of the first poem, but concerning your comments, all worship of God is good. It gives him the honor he deserves as our creator. For this reason, religion is part of the virtue of justice.
    Have you heard Joan Baez’s album, Baptism? It was an anti-war recording, released in 1968. She sings a beautiful poem by Cummings called “All in Green.” Really haunting. I don’t think that album is available on CD, but it’s definitely worth looking for.

  6. Little birds. The song “The Littlest Birds” by The Be Good Tanyas has just come to mind. If you don’t know it, do check it out. There’s a UTube video.

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