Friday, September 24, 2004

As Freedom is a Breakfastfood

It's poetry time again. I have no idea what this means, but it sounds cool. It looks cool. It tastes cools. It's e.e. cummings, which you can probably tell just by looking...

Although, now that I think about it, maybe it's something about how we play pretend, like kids who make believe they're soldiers. We pretend we're better and more important than we are, and that makes us better and more important than we are. Is there any difference between something we pretend is symbolic and something that really is symbolic?

Or maybe it just sounds cool. That's more important, I think.

as freedom is a breakfastfood
or truth can live with right and wrong
or molehills are from mountains made
--long enough and just so long
will being pay the rent of seem
and genius please the talentgang
and water most encourage flame

as hatracks into peachtrees grow
or hopes dance best on bald men's hair
and every finger is a toe
and any courage is a fear
--long enough and just so long
will the impure think all things pure
and hornets wail by children stung

or as the seeing are the blind
and robins never welcome spring
nor flatfolk prove their world is round
nor dingsters die at break of dong
and common's rare and millstones float
--long enough and just so long
tomorrow will not be too late

worms are the words but joy's the voice
down shall go which and up come who
breasts will be breasts thighs will be thighs
deeds cannot dream what dreams can do
--time is a tree (this life one leaf)
but love is the sky and i am for you
just so long and long enough


Anonymous said...

I can only agree that pretending somthing is important or meaningful definately makes it so, since how you feel about something, or look at it, is how you see the world. If meaning and spirituality and all that jazz are just artifically laid down over reality, they are still real, if only to feels them. Also, this is a good poem, gotta love cummings.

Piper said...

This is probably my favorite poem by e.e. cummings. The last stanza, in my opinion, is one of his most powerfully beautiful. It leaves you with a feeling of hope, I think- which I feel was almost uncommon during this era. It's beautiful, nonetheless. :)

Andy M said...

Well, this is coming about three years late, but I can offer my opinion of what this poem is about.

This poem, one of my favorites of E.E. Cummings, laments sardonically of the falsity in the vast array of perversions that stand as accepted products and ways of our culture. It is a sweeping repudiation of all that we accept or, at least, allow to stand, as what is a normal measure, true value or as "the truth" itself. Every line is a contradiction of what should be, in a better world, say.

Freedom = breakfast food, that is, the jingoistic hype on a cereal box. Think Frosted Flakes, Wheaties. Freedom here is sullied by the worst of commercial propaganda.

"Truth can live with right and wrong". No it can't, not TRUTH writ large. Truth is truth and cannot be equivocated.

The expression: "Make a mountain out of a molehill" means to exaggerate. Something small is exaggerated into something large. In the poem, the saying gets switched around both in meaning and in form.

"Genius please the talent gang". Again, what is, should not be. Genius is, or should be, of a far higher position to a "talent gang" (think temp-employment agencies, or those who hire for a limited and limiting hack job). Unfortunately, says Cummings, this is not the case. Novelty is often favored over genius.

Do "hornets wail" when they sting children? Of course not.

E.E. Cummings points out that so much in our culture is out of touch with what should be: up is down, right is wrong, old is young, etc.

The last stanza breaks from the rest in this cry of frustration. But I actually have a hard time interpreting this, myself, aside from the sentiment, that, however crazy the world is, one thing is sure, true and will last as long as he lives: the love the writer has for his beloved.

However, one line in the last stanza is to me the one of the most powerful and true and beautiful statements I have ever come across: "deeds cannot dream what dreams can do".

It all starts with a dream - "I have a dream", say MLK. And while the dream is yet unfulfilled, it birthed many deeds and will many more until the dream is fulfilled.

Hope this helps.

Stoneground said...


Stoneground said...