On Feb 20, 2005, at 22:20, Chris Mansell wrote:
> Just chipping in here - as someone who likes cummings.
Good, that makes two of us!
> I have recordings of quite a few of his poems
> read by him and I enjoy them. I would disagree that it's 'droning'. I
> because there is often a grammatical ambiguity in his lines it forces a
> reader to suspend closure when reading which gives an interesting
> surface quite unlike a drone (I'm thinking by 'drone' you mean like
> sort of continuo).
I didn't actually say they were 'droning' -- I said they were something
of a 'priestly chanting monotone.' Though I can see one could
interpret that as 'droning' it's not quite what I meant...chanting
priests can still be interesting to listen to.
Two things surprised me when I first heard his recordings (compared to
how I heard the words in my own head), namely the tempo and the sense
of control. While I've never had the slightest doubt that he had full
control over his words and the placement of them, I always envisioned
this control as being used to communicate an illusion of its opposite.
The poems scan as out of control, which of course makes them all the
more stunning when they come to their very precise conclusions. When he
reads, though, the controlling aspect becomes much more dominant, and
in creating the interesting musical surface (I'll agree with you on
that one) I feel he loses a sense of the spontaneous which is very much
there on the page. This ties in with the point of tempo -- I scan his
poems as rather quick, and rather skittish in their typographical
leaps, akin perhaps to a hare evading a hound. The sound, again, is
quite different. His pacing is almost stately.
It all makes me wonder exactly how Cummings experienced the reading of
his own poems off the page, and how much that must differ from how I
> Apologies for butting in.
And here I thought butting in was the whole point of having a mailing