06.04.2010 07:55 AM

Words that sing

I was driving two of my boys to school yesterday morning, and a poet came on CBC Radio to recite an old Canadian poem (anyone also hear it, have it?), and talk about the Griffin Trust Awards, and my boys were absolutely attentive. It was utter silence in the car; they were transfixed. When the poet was done, the youngest asked me why poetry – Roethke, cummings, Yeats, Auden – was so important to me. “It’s words that sing,” I said.

Someone else must have said that before, and I remembered it. But anyway – here is some verse to get your day started right, and what I say to my children I feel about them:

i carry your heart with me by E. E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)


  1. Catherine says:

    Simple abundance.

  2. Abigail T says:

    Thank you for posting my favourite poem. E. E. Cummings once said, “Unless you love someone, nothing else makes sense.”

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for that. I don’t know what the poem was – but I looked for ages for a poem I read in childhood, by a Canadian author (Hugh MacLennan?), called Zalinka. Finally realized I’d been looking under the wrong author, and actually had it right under my nose.
    It’s in “A Pocketful of Canada”, a book that’s managed to stay with my stuff from place to place for years.

    Last night in a land of triangles
    I lay in a cubicle, where
    A girl in pajamas and bangles
    Slept with her hands in my hair.

    And I thought ee cummings wrote the ‘archy and mehitabel’ poems – the ones about the cockroach who philosophizes on life, using a typewriter after hours – and can’t use the shift key, so it’s in lower case. Mehitabel is the female alley cat whose motto is “toujours gai”. I was wrong – it’s Don Marquis.

    mehitabel s soul formerly inhabited a
    human also at least that
    is what mehitabel is claiming these
    days it may be she got jealous of
    my prestige anyhow she and
    i have been talking it over in a
    friendly way who were you
    mehitabel i asked her i was
    cleopatra once she said i said i
    suppose you lived in a palace you bet
    she said and what lovely fish dinners
    we used to have and licked her chops

  4. george says:

    e.e.cummings,you know better!wkzt

  5. Jan Schotte says:

    Here’s the link to the item so that you can listen to it again:
    The poet’s name is Drummond.

  6. northbaytrapper says:

    I was going to counter your delight with a more sobering outlook (The Clod and the Pebble by William Blake), but decided to make a more whimsical retort with Robbie Burns:

    Awa’ wi’ your witchcraft o’ Beauty’s alarms,
    The slender bit Beauty you grasp in your arms,
    O, gie me the lass that has acres o’ charms,
    O, gie me the lass wi’ the weel-stockit farms.

  7. allegra fortissima says:

    “Life, love, and laughter – what priceless gifts to give our children.” ~ Phyllis Dryden

    Of course I had to order the book “Archy and Mehitabel” by Don Marquis a few minutes ago – how could I resist 🙂

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I’ll have to get an archy and mehitabel” book too – only have a few poems somewhere. Loved them when I was a kid – the idea of a cockroach typing and complaining about the lot of insects, and why butterflies should be treated better than roaches.

    One book I have treasured and kept with me through thick and thin is “The Bedside Book”. It’s a compilation of everything from ancient letters to modern (1950s) poetry – and I can’t find another copy anywhere. It’s all beat up.

  9. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    You sir, are a true son of Ireland. Now remember, a toast to you, with whiskey — and I don’t mean that more familiar one!

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I just found this on one of my multitude of stickies — as I was looking for the list of alternate names for the Republican Party:

    e.e. cummings

    All in green went my love riding

    All in green went my love riding
    on a great horse of gold
    into the silver dawn.

    four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
    the merry deer ran before.

    Fleeter be they than dappled dreams
    the swift sweet deer
    the red rare deer.

    Four red roebuck at a white water
    the cruel bugle sang before.

    Horn at hip went my love riding
    riding the echo down
    into the silver dawn.

    four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
    the level meadows ran before.

    Softer be they than slippered sleep
    the lean lithe deer
    the fleet flown deer.

    Four fleet does at a gold valley
    the famished arrow sang before.

    Bow at belt went my love riding
    riding the mountain down
    into the silver dawn.

    four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
    the sheer peaks ran before.

    Paler be they than daunting death
    the sleek slim deer
    the tall tense deer.

    Four tell stags at a green mountain
    the lucky hunter sang before.

    All in green went my love riding
    on a great horse of gold
    into the silver dawn.

    four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
    my heart fell dead before.

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