January 23, 2002

mr. cummings, meet Mr. Meatloaf

I know sex and death are two of the most common themes in poetry, but does anyone else see a really amusing amount of correspondence here, or is it just me?

(may i touch said he
how much said she
a lot said he)
why not said she

(let's go said he
not too far said she
what's too far said he
where you are said she)

may i stay said he
(which way said she
like this said he
if you kiss said she

may i move said he
it is love said she)
if you're willing said he
(but you're killing said she

but it's life said he
but your wife said she
now said he)
ow said she

(tiptop said he
don't stop said she
oh no said he)
go slow said she

(cccome?said he
ummm said she
you're divine!said he
(you are Mine said she)

e.e.cummings, "may I feel said he"

I. Paradise
I remember every little thing
As if it happened only yesterday
Parking by the lake
And there was not another car in sight
And I never had a girl
Looking any better than you did
And all the kids at school
They were wishing they were me that night

And now our bodies are oh so close and tight
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we're glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
C'mon! Hold on tight!
C'mon! Hold on tight!

Though it's cold and lonely in the deep dark night
I can see paradise by the dashboard light

Ain't no doubt about it
We were doubly blessed
Cause we were barely seventeen
And we were barely dressed

And I gotta let ya know
No you're never gonna regret it
So open up your eyes I got a big surprise
It'll feel all right
Well I wanna make your motor run

And now our bodies are oh so close and tight
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we're glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife

C'mon! Hold on tight!
C'mon! Hold on tight!

We're gonna go all the way tonight
We're gonna go all the way
Tonight's the night...

Radio Broadcast:
Ok, here we go, we got a real pressure cooker going
here, two down, nobody on, no score, bottom of the
ninth, there's the wind-up and there it is, a line shot
up the middle, look at him go. This boy can really fly!

He's rounding first and really turning it on
now, he's not letting up at all, he's gonna
try for second; the ball is bobbled out in center,
and here comes the throw, and what a throw!
He's gonna slide in head first, here he comes, he's out!
No, wait, safe--safe at second base, this kid really
makes things happen out there.

Batter steps up to the plate, here's the pitch--
he's going, and what a jump he's got, he's trying
for third, here's the throw, it's in the dirt--
safe at third! Holy cow, stolen base!

He's taking a pretty big lead out there, almost
daring him to try and pick him off. The pitcher
glance over, winds up, and it's bunted, bunted
down the third base line, the suicide squeeze in on!
Here he comes, squeeze play, it's gonna be close,
here's the throw, there's the play at the plate,
holy cow, I think he's gonna make it!

II. Let Me Sleep On It

Stop right there!
Before we go any further--!

Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?
Do you need me?
Will you never leave me?
Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife?
Do you love me!?
Will you love me forever!?
Do you need me!?
Will you never leave me!?
Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life!?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife!?
I gotta know right now
Before we go any further
Do you love me!!!?
Will you love me forever!!!?

Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby let me sleep on it
Let me sleep on it
And I'll give you my answer in the morning

Will you love me forever?

Let me sleep on it!!!


Will you love me forever!!!

III. Praying for the End of Time

I couldn't take it any longer
Lord I was crazed
And when the feeling came upon me
Like a tidal wave
I started swearing to my god and on my mother's grave
That I would love you to the end of time
I swore that I would love you to the end of time!

So now I'm praying for the end of time
To hurry up and arrive
Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you
I don't think that I can really survive
I'll never break my promise or forget my vow
But God only knows what I can do right now
I'm praying for the end of time
It's all that I can do
Praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you!!!

Meatloaf, excerpted from "Paradise by the Dashboard Light"

Well, maybe it's not as close a correspondence as I thought; I first read the
cummings line, "But your wife" as "But I want to be your wife", and now I realize it's more probably meant to be, "But what about your wife?" Despite that, though, the cummings poem somehow sounds to me like adolescent sex, as much as the Meatloaf song. I don't think cummings can be meaning to say that all sex is adolescent, since it took him three tries (so presumably some maturity) to get marriage right. And then he did -- and there's nothing like a happy marriage to convince you that all good sex doesn't have to be in the adolescent model.

It's always startling to realize how frankly sexual so much of e.e. cummings' work is, once you get past the few poems most commonly anthologized. (Was the other meaning of his own name an influence?) I suppose it shows his genius that he evokes the mood with such allusory brushwork, though I don't think the comparison is all to Meatloaf's discredit either. (The baseball announcer part makes me laugh every time.)

I've been reading Poetry Speaks; the central conceit of the book is the
included CDS with poets reading their own work. They go back as early as possible, with Alfred Lord Tennyson as an old man recording onto Mr. Edison's new wax cylinders, and coming up to Sylvia Plath (all included poets are dead). The accompanying book has a short bio of each poet, an essay on their work by a living poet, and several selections. To the credit of the editors, they've included poets whose names I hadn't heard, though I've seen their work, as well as works I'd never seen from Big Names (like the one above). I'm finding that having a few poems broken up by essays and listening to the CD is prompting me to analyze each one with more attention, instead of the glaze my eyes get when confronted with page after page of Erato's and Polyhymnia's tributes.

Posted by dichroic at January 23, 2002 04:59 PM
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