Tag Archive: e.e. cummings

Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


When I think of poetry, I often marvel at the way older people still remember passages that they had to memorize during the school days.


I studied many works, traveled through Dante, Plutarch, and, of course, Shakespeare. But I have retained little of it.


I might remember a line from Byron, the opening line from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and the awful ‘tree’ poem. I can recite some biblical verses because they are rhymed or have a nice flair to them.


My favorite will always be “I am a stranger in a strange land” stated by Moses when he arrives in Midian.


Some poets like to be purposefully obscure in their writings while others lay out their feelings so that they reader can easily pick up on the emotions and physical scene surrounding the writer. Sometimes that comma that might seem like a distraction was actually purposely placed to make us slow down and feel the heart ache of the writer.


Image from thefamouspeople.com

Image from thefamouspeople.com

One of my favorite poets is e.e. cummings who turned phrases inside out while ignoring all rules of punctuation. I am not always sure what he is saying but it sounds lovely as he tries to find new ways to describe how he feels about his love.


No one, not even the rain, has such small hands.


I first heard this line in a Woody Allen movie, Hannah and Her Sisters. The movie is about three sisters who are at different stages of life. The incredibly capable Mia Farrow believes she is happily married to Michael Caine. Barbra Hershey is living with a man who does not want any children. Actress and caterer Diane Weist is searching for something. And Mia’s ex-husband, Allen, is flitting around in the belief he is dying from something.


Poetry is used to seduce one sister, death knocks at the door and changes it mind while true love blossoms unexpectedly. Set in the upper middle class of NYC, it is a movie about the bond of sisters, the ability to forgive, and the fear of moving on.


While this movie came out in 1987, I find very few movies use poetry unless it is a historical movie. After all, nothing sets a historical scene like a good epic poem. One movie that I remember from recent years takes an old rhyme about a treasonous group.


Remember, Remember the Fifth of November, The Gunpowder Treason and Plot

II know of no reason, why the Gunpowder Treason, should ever be forgot.


Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

In V for Vendetta, England is now ruled by a man who looks and acts like Hitler. Anyone who defies him or stands against him disappears and will eventually be put to death. The small group of rebels disappear, are tortured, and killed. While all of this goes on, there is one man who is willing to get the revenge while we learn his story and that of the young woman he chooses as a partner after saving her from the secret police.


It is a movie that talks about the price of freedom, moving poetry and culture into the mix so that it is almost natural. And let’s not forget the spectacular explosion at the end of the movie. Are either of these movies family friendly? Well, they are if you have teenagers but the smaller members might have to be satisfied with a Dr. Suess movie.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


Please Recite a Poem

Family Movie Night


by Karyn Bowman


Blame it on Shakespeare that April is National Poetry Month, if you must.


Image from gamutplays.org

The greatest writer, ever, was born on April 23rd and for that we must remember poetry in our life during the month of April.


I know some of you might be wondering what’s the use of poetry. Most poets starve unless they can find work as college professors or Hallmark card writers.


Let me argue that poetry is like flowers, adding something to our daily lives that we didn’t even know was missing.


As an English major, I’ve read many poems. I was never able to memorize poems but a few stay in my head thanks to little musical tricks.


“Never a lender or a borrower be,

And Don’t Forget,

Stay out of Debt.”


That bit of advice comes from Polonius to Laertes in Hamlet, although I am sure no one sings it on-screen to the classical tune I do so I can remember it. There are many screen versions of Hamlet. Some may prefer the Mel Gibson version from 1990 or Lawrence Oliver’s of 1948. Kenneth Branagh did his in 1996. Then there is the irreverent adult comedy of Hamlet 2 starring Steve Coogan and Catherine Keener.


Image from IMDb.com

My second oldest reports reading Romeo and Juliet in class right now. He is having a difficult time because the language is stiff, stilted. I understand how he feels because the language can be tough. As a senior in high school, we read John Keats’ The Eve of St. Agnes in class. Our teacher could not believe how dully one of us read the section in which our heroine undresses. It came out like a laundry list of things to be done, not the disrobement that it is.


I would have my son watch the much maligned Shakespeare In Love because of how the movie displays the power of those words when they are spoken. They are not stilted but passionate language telling the story of forbidden love and heated family rivalry. Perhaps, I should get the Leonardo Di Caprio version which has a more musical flair to it.


There is one poem I love more than any other, written by e.e. cummings. This poet was known for ignoring capitalization and various other rules of poetical form. Surprising enough, at the time of his death in 1962, cummings was the second most read poet in our country. Robert Frost was the most read at that time.


Image from IMDb.com

someplace i have never traveled, gladly beyond was featured in the Woody Allen movie Hannah and Her Sisters. It is used to woo a woman by her brother-in-law and when you read the poem, it is easy to see how these words can do so. The writer talks of a love that can bring him out or shut him off from the world. He talks of a love that thrills him with its beauty and the sense of the unknown in the person he loves.


Listening to Michael Caine read these words remind me that beauty surrounds us in the everyday and finding it takes only a little effort.

Is there a poem that you remember beyond any others?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.