Of war and love . . . etc

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A poem from the front by e e cummings

I was leafing through a collection of war poetry and found a Rye resonance – the poem’s title is the name of one of Rye’s well-known shops.

e.e. cummings was renowned for not using capital letters in his verse. This poem reflects his war. He began as an ambulance driver but was enlisted into the US army in mid-1918 after being arrested by the French for suspected espionage, and released after the intervention of President Wilson. A search of the internet reveals a number of differing interpretations, but I cannot imagine what he is dreaming of in the last two words of the poem – or can I? And what is the connection of our splendid shop with cummings?

Andrew Bamji
Rye

my sweet old etcetera
by e. e. cummings

my sweet old etcetera
aunt lucy during the recent

 war could and what
is more did tell you just
what everybody was fighting

for,
my sister

 Isabel created hundreds
(and
hundreds) of socks not to
mention fleaproof earwarmers
etcetera wristers etcetera, my
mother hoped that

i would die etcetera
bravely of course my father used
to become hoarse talking about how it was
a privilege and if only he
could meanwhile my

self etcetera lay quietly
in the deep mud et

 cetera
(dreaming,
et
cetera, of
Your smile
eyes knees and of your Etcetera)

201408Etc1
Cummings’s poem and a shop of the same name in Rye’s High Street is not a coincidence. The poem was the inspiration for the shop’s name and the poem is hung on the wall