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100 Selected Poems

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  24,834 ratings  ·  442 reviews
E.E. Cummings is without question one of the major poets of this century, and this volume, first published in 1959, is indispensable for every lover of modern lyrical verse. It contains one hundred of Cummings’s wittiest and most profound poems, harvested from thirty-five of the most radically creative years in contemporary American poetry. These poems exhibit all the extr ...more
Paperback, 121 pages
Published January 10th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1954)
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4.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  24,834 ratings  ·  442 reviews

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Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2018-reads
“let it go – the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise – let it go it
was sworn to

let them go – the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers – you must let them go they
were born
to go

let all go – the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things – let all go

so comes love”

“no man,if men are gods;but if gods must
be men,the sometimes only man is this
(most common,for each anguish is his grief;
and,for his joy is more than joy,most rare)

a f
Tomas Ramanauskas
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, masterpiece
If you want to experience a poet dance, pick up ee cummings.
If you are youth and want some slogans on your t-shirt or screen, pick up ee cummings.
If you've forgotten what youth was, pick up ee cummings.
If you orgasm often/occasionally, pick up ee cummings.
If you're into the jazz of language, linguistic acrobatics, pick up ee cummings.
If you've ever loved or still do, pick up ee cummings.
If you've never loved or don't love anymore, pick up ee cummings.
If you crave for both unexplored and familiar
Dec 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
For some reason, I had never rated E. E. Cummings. He became the icon for form-twisting poetry, with his name written in lower-case reflecting the way his poems used and abused typography, grammar, and punctuation. I'm a symbol manipulating machine, it's why I'm a computer programmer and why I love to read. But I manipulate symbols within rules, and I love rules: I loved learning the rules of punctuation and spelling and grammar. Knowledge is power, it let me sort the world into right and wrong ...more
Oct 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I find reviewing poetry like reviewing a color. If your favorite color is blue, it's hard to explain why it appeals to you. Or why blue is better then red. Expressing the inarticulable, the ability to convey a sense of something beyond words through words, for me, is the greatness of a poet.

I first stumbled across cummings in high school in one of those gloss covered, all-encompassing, "LITERATURE" textbooks that public schools are so fond of. And, for whatever reason, e.e. cummings has accompan
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagi
Apr 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
My first Cummings book (it cost me $1.95 many years ago) and still my favorite. There are so many poems in here which I think are good poems. The general critical consensus seems to be that Cummings was second-rate. Well, for me, he is more engaging than many poets that others fawn over. He was an accomplished sonneteer, though you might not recognize all his sonnets for what they are at first, due to his experiments with orthography. He was a fine erotic poet, and an effective political satiris ...more
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As I finished this slim book, I puzzled over how to best explain how it makes me feel. I got this image in my head:

If I were stranded on a deserted island and allowed to take one book with me, this book would be in my top five of final, possible picks. If I picked this book to take with me, when someone found me ten years later, I would still be puzzling over some of the meaning of the poems; I would still be kept comfortably happy, sad, shy, engaged, and peaceful by the texture, the emotion of
Rachael Quinn
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ever since my modern literature class in college, I've kind of had a thing against Cummings. I hated his style. As a grammar nazi, it completely confused me. When the professor suggested that we read the poems aloud, I scoffed. I loved poetry and I never had to read it aloud before so why should I now?

However, that professor was correct.

When I came across this book on one of my lists, I told myself that I could suffer through just 100 poems. I didn't suffer through them at all, though. It was po
May 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I’m not sure I was clever enough to understand what EE Cummings had to say in these 100 poems of his. Most of them are hardly a page long and very short but like my aversion of short stories there was something in this book of short poems that just didn’t click with me. I remember opening a Brian Transeaux (I think) album and reading the following excerpt from a Cumming’s poem and being blown away as an 18 year old:
“Deeds cannot dream what dreams can do
Time is a tree (this life is one leaf)
But l
Carolina Carriço
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it
There were a few I really enjoyed, some I didn't feel anything about, and there even a couple I couldn't understand anything about. I feel like I could read these again in a couple of years and it would be a completely different experience.
Simona Stoica
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
L-am descoperit pe Cummings în Magonia și nu credeam că o să îmi placă atât de mult.
Nov 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, american_lit, poetry
I had always thought Cummings was all about punctuation and syntax gimmicks, but reading this slim volume made me reevaluate his poetry. Sure, there are insufferable poems included here that might just be pure poetic masturbation, but when he's successful—that is, when he manages to use those syntactical and punctuation quirks as stepping stones to transcend ordinary meaning—he reaches a depth that can't be reached otherwise, and the effect is often one of chilling delight, from wonderfully cryp ...more
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Not to be disrespectful or anything, but sometimes I had the feeling e.e.cummings just smashed his forehead on his typewriter and called it poetry.

My favorite example?

bRight s??? big

soft near calm
calm st?? holy

(soft briGth deep)
yeS near sta? calm star big yEs

near deep whO big alone soft near
deep calm deep
Who(holy alone)holy(alone holy)alone

To me, this is meme material, not poetry.
Poetry is supposed to make you feel something, but I just felt deceived
may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile


While reading this, I was co
Rachel Nicole Wagner
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've only read a few of his poems for my literature class but wow, he's one of my favorites. I love his wording. Absolutely beautiful. I actually read them in March 2016 but it's poems within my LIT book that I counted as read already :)
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
I don't like his style. There were some poems I really enjoyed. I would probably like this more if I took more time to study it later in my life, but there's a lot more to read in the world.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this cover is terrible and this collection doesn't have my faves i carry your heart or dive for dreams unfortunately but i love it
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some poems were beautiful and made me cry; some were so confusing I’m still not sure what I read.
Eugenea Pollock
Every time I read this collection of verses, I find new favorites and gain new understanding of cummings’s work. This time, one that spoke to me was #99–
“and now you are and I am now and we’re
a mystery which will never happen again,
a miracle which has never happened before—
and shining this our now must come to then”
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I've always loved the Indigo Girls song "Virginia Woolf," because it's about the awe-inspiring sensation of instinctively grasping a writer's aesthetic and point of view, and it's pretty much how I felt while I was reading this collection of E. E. Cummings's poems.

I had encountered isolated examples of Cummings before, in textbooks, anthologies, and choral music, but I really only began to grasp the breadth and depth of Cummings's wit, playfulness, and effusive use of language when I read severa
Aug 07, 2015 rated it liked it
My rating of works of poetry are always purely based on my personal enjoyment of them and are never based on the skill of the writing. To me, poetry is all about perception and whether or not the words speak to you. 100 Selected Poems proves that E.E. Cummings was a master manipulator of words. His voice in these poems was so witty and clever and sometimes I would have to take a lengthy pause at the end of a piece before it would click and I'd say "I see what he did there!". While being unique a ...more
It's a pleasure to write about e. e. cummings, as it is to read him. (And I believe, as is obvious, in never capitalizing his name. It's like putting "God" in lower case.) The extravagant praise on the back of this book, by Marianne Moore, John Dos Passos, Randall Jarrell, Karl Shapiro, is notably defensive, as if one must apologize for liking cummings -- the way one apologizes for loving Madonna. And there is a definite "pop music" to e. e.: the tender strains of love, and adolescent revolt, sw ...more
Stef Rozitis
Mar 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, 1951-1960
It's hard to rate an anthology of poetry because there were individual poems in there that I drop-dead loved, others I just liked. There were others I did not like at all and there were some I had trouble understanding. Of the ones I had trouble understanding there were some that I figured if I was a little smarter, or better read or had more similar cultural capital to the poet maybe I would have had a chance, but there were some I suspected the poet was just being subjective to the point of in ...more
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This collection is great. E e cummings is awesome. Some of his poems get a little carried away, otherwise his poetry is great. Here's my favorite:

Humanity i love you
because you would rather black the boots of
success than enquire whose soul dangles from his
watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both

parties and because you
unflinchingly applaud all
songs containing the words country home and
mother when sung at the old howard

Humanity i love you because
when you’re hard up you pawn your
Mark Desrosiers
Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
I once titled a high school mix tape "He sang his didn't he danced his did." -- I bet I wasn't the only person to do that.

Cummings speaks to that rosy-cheeked puppy-love idealism that infects us all when we're young & lusty, and he's occasionally a genius at it too. But I think high school is where his poems should stay: his inability to think deeply about any topic whatsoever is pretty obvious as you read on. And his bungee-jumping syntax seems more lazy than brilliant after you move on to
Katie Marquette
Jul 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
How can you describe the beauty of E.E. Cummings? There is no way to put into words the simply ecstastic way in which he writes. For people who can't stand some improper grammar - you probably won't be his biggest fan. It's an aqquired taste to be sure. His poems are full of ambition, idealism, sex, and fantasy. The words float off the page. Read them out loud to yourself. I'll be astonished if you're not completely moved by them.

"i feel that(false and true are merely to know)
Love only has ever
Aug 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
Something I thought I would like, but ended up just breezing and looking at the poems. I know some people love this guys stuff, but I couldn't really get into it, at least some of them looked nice. To be honest, I'm not sure what I just read. Was that even a langue or a list of random words? Sorry, but this is not my kind of poetry. Maybe if I was more into poetry I'd like this stuff. Oh well.
Sep 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, e-e-cummings
let it go – the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise – let it go it
was sworn to

let them go – the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers – you must let them go they
were born
to go

let all go – the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things – let all go

so comes love
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing

a man who had fallen among thieves
lay by the roadside on his back
dressed in fifteenthrate ideas
wearing a round jeer for a hat

If you've never read Cummings, you need to give him time. His punctuation, his meld words, his eccentric word-placement on the page, and then his actual experiments with meaning—they're not immediately obvious or understandable. Some poems are harder, some easier to grasp, but I found persisting with an open mind to be ultimately rewarding.

Reading aloud helped me discover
era mae
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I'm always fascinated by the way Cummings created his own style (with the use of parentheses and his improper use of grammar). Although some poems are difficult to fathom, most of his poems are well-written and I just had to indulge into the verses over and over again.

let it go — the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise let it go it
was sworn to

let them go — the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers — you must let them go they
were born
to go

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  • The Waste Land and Other Writings
  • Selected Poems
  • The Collected Poems
  • Collected Poems
  • Love Poems
  • Chicago Poems
  • The Collected Poems
  • The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara
  • Collected Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • Pictures of the Gone World
  • The Collected Poems, 1957-1987
  • Otherwise: New and Selected Poems
  • The Complete Poems 1927-1979
  • Nine Horses
  • Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs
  • Collected Poems
  • The Wild Iris
Edward Estlin Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 14, 1894. He began writing poems as early as 1904 and studied Latin and Greek at the Cambridge Latin High School.

He received his BA in 1915 and his MA in 1916, both from Harvard University. His studies there introduced him to the poetry of avant-garde writers, such as Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound.

In 1917, Cummings published a
“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
It's always our self we find in the sea.”
“when man determined to destroy
himself he picked the was
of shall and finding only why
smashed it into because”
More quotes…