Nobody-But-Yourself: Part I

Discover the core of E.E. Cummings' insights on poetry as the pure essence of feeling, defying intellectual constructs.

Nobody-But-Yourself: Part I
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In the following letter to young poets, Cummings claims that one must feel, not intellectualize, in order to be oneself. He underscores how difficult it is to express oneself authentically and sets a high bar for anyone who attempts it.
A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words. This may sound easy. It isn’t. A lot of people think or believe or know they feel—but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling—not knowing or believing or thinking.
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Here the word "feeling" is used to describe raw experience, unmediated by the mind's various faculties. Take a memory, an idea, or this very moment and describe your unmediated experience.
Cummings writes from that space before the mind. In another poem, he writes, “now the ears of my ears awake and/now the eyes of my eyes are opened.” Find that sacred place that Cummings adores. Where is hearing heard? Where is seeing seen? Where is knowing known?
Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.
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The intellect may have its use, but according to E.E. Cummings, feeling is the road to authenticity. Because we're taught to think, our thinking is shared. But when we feel, we're "nobody-but-ourself." What within you is untaught?

Story From

E.E. Cummings Collection