The Artist as "Is": A Creative and Critical Analysis of the Aesthetics of E.E. Cummings in his Poetry and Painting




Hwang, Hannah

Access rights

Worldwide access

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Edward Estlin Cummings, more commonly known as E.E. Cummings, dedicated his life to the pursuit of remaining in an active state of creating, and therefore experimented with a plethora of artistic mediums including, but not limited to, poetry and painting. Although he is primarily known for his poetry, in which his unconventional experimentation with grammar, punctuation and spelling brought him much attention, his passion for painting equally served as an effective method of self-expression for the avant-garde artist. Regarding his obsession with aesthetics, Cummings wrote in a series of his “nonlectures” for the students of his Alma Mater, Harvard University, “so far as I am concerned, poetry and every other art was and is and forever will be strictly and distinctly a question of individuality… (as it happens) poetry is being, not doing.” By analyzing both a poem and a painting from five different periods of his life, I seek to find the instances in which the relationship between Cummings as a human being and Cummings as an artist coalesce. These instances within his art, in which his intellectual pursuits yield visceral sensations for both himself and his readers define who he was: an authentically unique individual dedicated to spreading feeling, truth and beauty. As I also uphold and desire to share these virtues, I will follow each pair of analyses with an original poem and painting inspired by Cummings’ works because, as he believed, to create is to feel, and “to feel something is to be alive.”