Sunday, January 4, 2009

edward estlin

This is a man who is very special to me. 
I bought a book of e. e. cummings's poetry on a whim my junior year of high school. I fell deeply in love with his writing and he's meant a lot to me ever since. He reminds me of my freshman year. He reminds me of van Gogh, because I loved them simultaneously over my first winter break home from college. 
I remember thinking of his poetry whenever I walked along The Charles, and I associate the van Gogh-esque dead cyprus trees that lined the shore with him. His book was on my dresser next to my bed that whole year. He's probably the reason I became a literature minor.
Junior year of college, I googled his old address in Cambridge and made a map of the route to his house. That neighborhood became a kind of refuge for me during college. I loved seeing that house dressed in sun, in snow, in fall leaves. I miss it so much now.
Though it's not my favorite poem by him, the piece that resonates with me the most is his "little tree". It comforts me, I think, to know that there are others who are as sensitive as I am about almost....everything, who feel for all things - objects, creatures, plants. It's just one of the reasons I love him so much.
He understood the beauty of words as individuals. The mathematical beauty of combining words that don't necessarily go together. The gorgeousness of an unexpected mark of punctuation.
In addition to writing, Estlin was also an artist. Above is his "self portrait with notepad."
the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls
are unbeautiful and have comfortable minds
(also, with the church's protestant blessings
daughters, unscented shapeless spirited)
they believe in Christ and Longfellow, both dead,
are invariably interested in so many things -
at the present writing one still finds
delighted fingers knitting for the is it Poles?
perhaps. While permanent faces coyly bandy
scandal of Mrs. N and Professor D
.... the Cambridge ladies do not care, above
Cambridge if sometimes in its box of
sky lavender and cornerless, the
moon rattles like a fragment of angry candy
in spite of everything
which breathes and moves, since Doom
(with white longest hands
neatening each crease)
will smooth entirely our minds
-before leaving my room
i turn, and (stooping
through the morning) kiss
this pillow, dear
where our heads lived and were.
(e.e. cummings)

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