i sing of Olaf

(Wrote this over a week ago, on the 19th, but never got around to posting it.)

From the ridiculous to the sublime:

Had some unusual dreams last night, including one that involved trying to protect a 9-year-old Regis Philbin from an angry theatre mob who wanted to kill him because of anti-war comments his character in a stage play had made.

That was just silly, especially because I know pretty much nothing about Regis. I think I've seen him on-camera for a total of about ten minutes, and most of that was in a Mad About You episode with him playing himself.

But it did start me thinking about pacifism and such. And through a chain of thought too tangled to reconstruct, it occurred to me that I had never mentioned in this journal one of my favorite poems.

Some day I'll get around to writing about the draft, financial aid, and conscientious objection. But for now, here's my favorite e.e. cummings poem: "i sing of Olaf glad and big."

The first time I encountered it, in a printed book of cummings poetry I think, the words "fucking" and "shit" were replaced with "f.ing" and "s." respectively. I thought that was the way cummings wrote it; I was surprised to find out later that he'd actually written out the words in full.

. . . I was amused at some of the comments posted about the poem in various places, especially the comments on that American Poems site. In particular, I enjoyed the following comment written by "c.fitzpatrick from United States." The typos (almost certainly unintentional) make it both funny and even more apropos than the commenter intended:

This poem is about , as cummings quite plainly writes, a conscientious objestor[....] This poem is not difficult to figure out; don't read too much into cummings. Although he is brilliant, he is understamndable and a true ohserver and commentator.

(The commenter corrected one of those typos and reposted the comment shortly afterward, but left the others intact.)

4 Responses to “i sing of Olaf”

  1. David Moles

    It’s easy to forget that there are three Es in understamnedable.

  2. Vardibidian

    OK, clearly I use Google too much for entertainment value, but I’m glad I came up with a site discussing the “ultimate conversion into machine understamndable language”. It’ll suck when their ohservers go down, I betcha.


  3. Michael

    Shouldn’t that be “understaminable”?

    short lines
    short words
    no upper case
    lazy poet syndrome

  4. Shmuel

    Pet Peeve Alert: Unlike bell hooks, E.E. Cummings consistently spelled his name with capital letters. “e.e. cummings” is an error, if a pervasive one.


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