"I Sing of Olaf"

Reply Tue 6 Jun, 2006 01:32 pm

I guess there are sites elsewhere to discuss poetry interpretation but I know this site, so I'm posting it here. Someone referred today to ee cummings' "I Sing of Olaf," so I googled it and read it over. (ee cummings being one of my faves, but not knowing that one)

Here's one location for the text of the poem: http://www.swans.com/library/art9/xxx097.html

1. Do you know of a reliable date for this poem? It seems different from his "later" (more familiar?) style.

2. What do YOU make of this part at the end, "unless statistics lie"? I read some commentary on other sites and agree the poem seems pretty straightforward about conscientious objection and who preponderates in the face of debasement, torture, etc., by military force. Yet, that's an odd reference, "unless statistics like."

Hope someone comments. I'd love the input.
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Reply Tue 6 Jun, 2006 07:11 pm
poetry forum

My guess is the mods wil move this post
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Reply Thu 8 Jun, 2006 09:53 am
war on science?

>Christ (of His mercy infinite)
>i pray to see;and Olaf,too

>preponderatingly because
>unless statistics lie he was
>more brave than me:more blond than you"

(from ee cummings, "i sing of olaf glad and big")
* * *
I may stand alone in my interest for cummings' odd reference to statistics in this again-timely poem (limitations of military might?).

However, checking around, I found a comment on an online bio of cummings that may be pertinent.

His many later books of poetry, from VV (1931) and No Thanks (1935) to Xaipe (1950) and 95 Poems (1958), took his formal experiments and his war on the scientific attitude to new extremes, but showed little substantial development.

"War on the scientific attitude"? Why would he wage war on the scientific attitude in that historical moment?
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Reply Thu 8 Jun, 2006 12:13 pm
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Reply Thu 8 Jun, 2006 12:47 pm
Thanks, Noddy! I had some reservations about posting the whole thing, so when you did it, my quandary got resolved.

Someone recently pointed me to "There is some **** I will not eat." It resonates with my recent on-the-job experience. Laughing

But when I looked up the whole text, that mention of statistics kept begging itself into a question...

[We need an emoticon for "curious." I would use it a lot--and use it here.]

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Reply Thu 8 Jun, 2006 01:37 pm

I think your Avatar comes across as a questing sort of beastie.
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Reply Thu 8 Jun, 2006 04:41 pm
This has long been one of my favorite poems.
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Reply Thu 8 Jun, 2006 10:56 pm
How 'bout this?--math AND science--and snobs :-]
The poems to come are for you and for me and are not for mostpeople-it's no use trying to pretend that mostpeople and ourselves are alike. Mostpeople have less in common with ourselves than the squarerootof-minusone. You and I are human beings;mostpeople are snobs.
Take the matter of being born. What does being born mean to most-people? Catastrophe unmitigated. Socialrevolution. The cultured aristocrat yanked out of his hyperexclusively ultravoluptuous super-palazzo,and dumped into an incredibly vulgar detentioncamp swarming with every conceivable species of undesireable organism. Mostpeople fancy a garanteed birthproof safetysuit of nondestructible selflessness. If mostpeople were to be born twice they'd improbably call it dying-
you and i are not snobs. We can never be born enough. We are human beings;for whom birth is a supremely welcome mystery,the mystery of growing:the mystery which happens only and whenever we are faithful to ourselves. you and i wear the dangerous looseness of doom and find it becoming. Life,for eternal us,is now;and now is much too busy being a little more than everything to seem anything,catastrophic included.
Life,for mostpeople,simply isn't. Take the socalled standardofliving. What do mostpeople mean by "living"? They don't mean living. They mean the latest and closest plural approximation to singular prenatal passivity which science,in its finite but unbounded wisdom,has suc-ceeded in selling their wives. If science could fail,a mountain's a mammal. Mostpeople's wives can spot a genuine delusion of embryonic omni-potence immediately and will accept no subsitutes.
-luckily for us,a mountain is a mammal....

-e. e. cummings

According to http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=82347 Cool
this is part of his introduction to "New Poems."
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