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“Firm Light”: cummings’ Erotica

By Annie Finch

Picture 2

For Valentine’s day, a link to some wonderful erotic poems and drawings by e.e. cummings


What is thy mouth to me?
A cup of sorrowful incense,
A tree of keen leaves,
An eager high ship,
A quiver of superb arrows.

What is thy breast to me?
A flower of new prayer,
A poem of firm light,
A well of cool birds,
A drawn bow trembling.

What is thy body to me?
A theatre of perfect silence,
A chariot of red speed;
And O, the dim feet
Of white-maned desires!

Comments (16)

  • On February 12, 2010 at 6:18 pm Peter Greene wrote:

    ooo, thank you. I have no Valentine’s rose to twine a thorny love-knot with, but e.e. cummings often makes me cry, which is perfectly fun on the 14th if you like that sort of thing. Flipping through the link makes me miss my collected Beardsley rather a lot.



  • On February 12, 2010 at 7:45 pm Mabool wrote:

    Cummings was one of the few who could bend the English language to his purposes. But like Shakespeare he couldn’t do the body without doing porn. I wish I could a counter example here because it is only fifteen words and would go nicely. But for protocol and copyright reasons I can’t, and so once again I utilize a link to my blog. Groan.


  • On February 12, 2010 at 8:02 pm Gary B. Fitzgerald wrote:


    E.E. Cummings remembered. At last!

    Bless your soul.

    (next…we track down Kenneth Patchen)


  • On February 13, 2010 at 8:43 am Miriam Levine wrote:

    Wonderful! Especially in these tame times that are supposed to be wild and free.

  • On February 13, 2010 at 11:23 pm john wrote:

    Thanks Annie. Love the poems.

  • On February 14, 2010 at 2:45 pm Peter Greene wrote:

    @Mabool: Groan indeed. I like your blog. I wish I could think of a good pink excuse for my own sausagey little link here, – oh, wait, i have a good excuse – i put up two love-related (non-porn) poems for Valentine’s ancient ashes today (unless he’s in his castle on Majipoor, but who can say?). Enjoy.


  • On February 14, 2010 at 2:46 pm Peter Greene wrote:

    @Mabool: Correct me, do, but isn’t there a Yedi cave full of hoarded words of yours out there somewhere? I seem to recall tracking you to its lair before.

  • On February 14, 2010 at 4:14 pm Annie FInch wrote:

    My favorite of the drawings is number 7, clipped here for the sake of propriety, which I would call erotica but not porn. I agree that the line between the two seems somewhat subjective. . .

  • On February 14, 2010 at 4:26 pm john wrote:

    Positive note in the poems & drawings: Seeking a mutuality of sexual joy. Always a pleasure.

  • On February 14, 2010 at 6:41 pm Gary B. Fitzgerald wrote:


    i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
    my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
    i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
    by only me is your doing,my darling)
    i fear
    no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
    no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
    and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
    and whatever a sun will always sing is you

    here is the deepest secret nobody knows
    (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
    and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
    higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
    and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

    i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

    E. E. Cummings


  • On February 14, 2010 at 6:51 pm Gary B. Fitzgerald wrote:


    Happy Valentine’s Day.


  • On February 14, 2010 at 8:39 pm Gary B. Fitzgerald wrote:

    And, oh yeah . . . Happy New Year!

    The Tyger

    Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,
    In the forests of the night,
    What immortal hand or eye
    Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

    In what distant deeps or skies
    Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
    On what wings dare he aspire?
    What the hand dare sieze the fire?

    And what shoulder, & what art,
    Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
    And when thy heart began to beat,
    What dread hand? & what dread feet?

    What the hammer? what the chain?
    In what furnace was thy brain?
    What the anvil? what dread grasp
    Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

    When the stars threw down their spears,
    And water’d heaven with their tears,
    Did he smile his work to see?
    Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

    Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
    In the forests of the night,
    What immortal hand or eye
    Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

    – William Blake

  • On February 16, 2010 at 12:04 am Bean wrote:

    Annie, thank you! How refreshing to read e.e. cummings and enjoy the drawings.

  • On February 16, 2010 at 12:15 pm mabool wrote:

    It was on my blog. I removed the hoard and replaced it with the current thing. The hoard was the Yedi. The current thing is not the Yedi.

  • On February 16, 2010 at 7:47 pm Gregory Hughes wrote:

    Oxenbridge thay’er Altamirain catharsis nowel,
    [A]fter [C]ivil [W]riting
    our masonry; albeit behavioral associations. Bevel gears
    what is relevent for reassembly,
    or a sort of invalidity called contrivance?

    Brueghel a scholarly office
    weather Brueghel le Griet [the dog]
    industrial etymology wherefore ergo
    an antidote?

    -Leucis Hughes
    1 of 12 pages

  • On February 18, 2010 at 5:43 pm Annie Finch wrote:

    So nice to find others who appreciate cummings–who does seem an undervalued poet right now. (now that Crane is finally coming back into fashion, I hope that cummings will not be far behind him. )

    Gary, thank you for the other cummings poem –and I am quite fond of Patchen as well, have a fabulous little old book of his with drawings that i’ll try to scan some of here.

    Miriam, I agree about the mysterious and often paradoxical balances between erotic daring and propriety in this time and other times

Posted in Uncategorized on Friday, February 12th, 2010 by Annie Finch.