love is thicker than forget

Life is so random.

Poet E. E. Cummings goes to Harvard. Makes friends with guy from Rochester, New York. Cummings paints a whole bunch of paintings and gives them to friend.

Cummings dies. Friend dies. 70+ drawings and paintings wind up at local college in 1978. Nobody knows what to do with them. They sit around in a closet (about half a mile from my house) for about 30 years.

That's where my story picks up. The paintings were recently re-discovered, and it's a big enough deal that NPR will air my short report on Weekend Edition Sunday. They're working on a cool web component, too, that should be up this weekend. Locally, hear it at 9:40ish a.m. Sunday morning on AM 1370.

So, you be the judge. Which is better: Cummings's poem or painting?

love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail

it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea

love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive

it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky



e.e. cummings

After looking at the collection of his paintings on SUNY Brockport site, I have an opinion. There is quite a range of work at the college, an unedited batch ranging in quality. The best work is thoughtful, sensitive in atmosphere, color, mood, with a nice feel for space and the area between things. Other work is more pedestrian, caught in a tight description of objects that don't quite breathe. It seems as though he was developing this talent and sometimes his voice came through, and sometimes he seems more the student.
The poem, on the other hand, is very provocative. I can think over each line again and again as well as muse on the meaning of the whole. Its conception is a fresh shock for a brain looking for exercise. Perhaps the painting was meditative and fed into the poetry, or perhaps it was too hard to write twenty-four seven and he needed another outlet for his mind and soul.

Cummings paintings

Hi, Nicole,

Thanks for your e-mail! I agree with you that the poem is more provocative. I scarcely understand it. I seems to suggest that love can be mystical beyond the ability of language to describe its power.

The guy I interviewed for the NPR piece, Milton Cohen, says Cummings pursued both art forms with equal time and effort. I think it shows that some things come more easily. Cummings was a natural writer, a less natural painter. I wonder if he thought his paintings were as good as his poetry.


Hi Brenda, I love your

Hi Brenda,

I love your article, and linked to it this week from Poetry & Poets in Rags.

Thanks very much for doing it.