|i: six nonlectures
First published by Harvard University Press in 1953 and never out of print, i: six nonlectures are the six Charles Eliot Norton "lectures" which Cummings delivered in the Sanders Theatre at Harvard University in 1952-1953. As the title indicates, the the book is about Cummings' lowercase "i" --his self. In the first three nonlectures, Cummings talks about the influences that formed that self--his family, his early life in Cambridge, MA, his reading, and his encounters with notable places: Norton's Woods, New York City, and Paris. He ends each nonlecture with readings from his own and others' poems. The last three nonlectures are devoted to Cummings' writings--his poems, plays (Him and Santa Claus), and prose works (The Enormous Room and Eimi). Written in the poet's idiosyncratic style, these nonlectures are amusing, entertaining, and enlightening, telling you more about the Cummings world-view than any of his other books.
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Notes for E. E. Cummings' i: six nonlectures 
(8) my father: Cummings' father, Edward Cummings, was a sociology professor and later a Unitarian minister. When he was in his teens and twenties, the poet rebelled against his father, but later saw him as a hero of the self (see Kennedy, Dreams 100-104; 161-163; 205-206; 385-386 and Kennedy, Revisited 111).
(9) William James (1842-1910): Pragmatist philosopher, early psychologist, and brother of novelist Henry James.
(9) concentration camp: During World War I, Cummings was jailed for supporting his friend Slater Brown, who wrote letters home saying that the Germans were probably not such bad folks after all. Cummings’ book about this experience is called The Enormous Room.
(11) nothing false and possible is love: first stanza of a
sonnet by Cummings (CP 574). The next line of the poem reads: "must’s a
schoolroom in the month of may:"
(25) professor Royce: Josiah Royce (1855-1916), professor of philosophy at Harvard, colleague of James. See note to "curtains part" (CP 230). Photo of Josiah Royce (with bow tie) at right.
(48) Howard Street . . . Scollay Square Howard St. was in
Scollay Square, Boston, site of the Old Howard Theatre,
a burlesque house. Long since demolished by "illustrious punks of
Progress" (CP 438), Scollay Square and the Old Howard were for years
"famous for supplementing the curricula of Harvard students. 'Always
Something Doing, One to Eleven, at the Old Howard' read its ads in the
Boston Globe, followed by the titillating phrase, '25 Beautiful Girls
the web page "A
brief, pictorial history of Scollay Square."
(48) Bernhardt = Sarah
Bernhardt, French actress, born
Rosine Bernhard (1844-1923).
Pavlova = Anna Pavlova (1881-1931), Russian ballet dancer. Nix on the Glowworm = perhaps "The Glow-Worm," (1907), musical composition by Paul Lincke.
Polaire = Emilie-Marie Bouchard (1879-1939), French actress and cafe-concert singer. Another site on Polaire.
The Turkey Trot and The Bunny Hug = Popular dances.
Everybody's Doing It [Now], Alexander's Ragtime Band, Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly, There's A Little Bit Of Bad In Every Good Little Girl, On The Banks Of The Saskatchewan, and Here Comes My Daddy Now (Oh Pop! Oh Pop! Oh Pop!) = Popular songs, circa 1911-1916. Here's a performance of the chorus from "Here Comes My Daddy Now" (lyrics by L. Wolfe Gilbert, music by Lewis F. Muir):
Mr. Sumner = John S. Sumner,
secretary of the
New York Society for the Suppression of Vice" (Daniels
(50) lugete, o Veneres: Catullus, poem 3, "O Venus and her cupids / and all that's moved by beauty in man, mourn / for my sweetheart's sparrow is dead." See the note to the poem "o pr" (CP 392).
(51) labuntur anni: Horace, Odes II.14, Ah,
Postumus, Postumus, how fleeting / "the swift years--prayer cannot
delay / the furrows of imminent old-age / nor hold off unconquerable
death." poikilothron' athanat' Aphrodita:
Sappho, the poem often called "Hymn to
Aphrodite": "On the throne of many hues, deathless Aphrodite"
that glorious human being: poet John Keats. Cummings quotes from Keats' letter to Benjamin Bailey, November 22, 1817.
(54) whose any mystery . . . Cummings quotes here from
lines 7-8 of his sonnet "you shall above all things be glad and young"
(68) 144 should read "1944."
(79) I drew a picture of it —visible on the covers of the
1955 editions of Him and reproduced on our Him
page. Cummings also recorded this "artist-as-acrobat" scene on his
album, E. E. Cummings Reading His Poetry
(1953), now called Essential E. E. Cummings (click
on "Audio Excerpt"). His nonlecture commentary on the scene was
reprinted in the liner notes to the
(111) believing and thinking automation should read "believing and thinking automaton."
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