"I Carry Your Heart With Me," A Discussion of the Poem by E. E. Cummings
The poem, “i carry your heart with me,” by E. E. Cummings has been a favorite love poem and a favorite selection at weddings for many years. The poem has gained renewed interest since being featured in the film, “In Her Shoes.” It is used with devastating effect in the film’s climactic wedding scene and again to close the movie. Countless fans have been inspired to review the touching words of “i carry your heart with me.”
E. E. Cummings was born Edward Estlin Cummings in 1894 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He died in North Conway, N.H., in 1962. Cummings earned a B.A. degree from Harvard in 1915 and delivered the Commencement Address that year, titled “The New Art.” A year later he earned an M.A. degree for English and Classical Studies, also from Harvard.
Cummings joined an ambulance corps with the American Red Cross in France during World War I. The French imprisoned him on suspicion of disloyalty, a false accusation that put Cummings in prison for three months. He wrote the novel, The Enormous Room, about his experience. Many of Cummings’ writings have an anti-war message.
Cummings was a fine artist, playwright and novelist. He studied art in Paris following World War I and he adopted a cubist style in his artwork. He considered himself as much a painter as a poet, spending much of the day painting and much of the night writing. Cummings particularly admired the artwork of Pablo Picasso. Cummings’ understanding of presentation can be seen in his use of typography to “paint a picture” with words in some of his poems.
During his lifetime Cummings wrote over 900 poems, two novels, four plays, and had at least a half dozen showings of his artwork.
Contrary to popular opinion Cummings never legalized his name as, “e.e. cummings.” His name properly should be capitalized.
E. E. Cummings’ poetry style is unique and highly visual. His typographical independence was an experiment in punctuation, spelling and rule-breaking. His style forces a certain rhythm into the poem when read aloud. His language is simple and his poems become fun and playful.
Cummings’ poem, “i carry your heart with me,” is about deep, profound love, the kind that can keep the stars apart and that can transcend the soul or the mind. The poem is easily read, easily spoken, and easily understood by people of all ages.
The poem could almost be called a sonnet. It has nearly the right number of lines in nearly the right combination. But, typical of a Cummings poem, it goes its own direction and does so with great effect.
The poem makes an excellent love song when set to music. The outstanding guitarist, Michael Hedges, has set “i carry your heart” to music on his “Taproot” album. Hedges himself sings the lead, but the backing vocals are sung by David Crosby and Graham Nash.
More than 168 of Cummings’ original poems have been set to music.
Enjoy the words and the sentiments of this famous poem.
i carry your heart with me
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)