Eco-Iconicity in the poetry and poem-groups of E.E. Cummings

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If in iconicity “form mimes meaning”, then in eco-iconicity formal elements like syntax, word division, visual placement on the page, the use of white spaces, and what might be called a transformational semantics all work together to mime the dynamic processes of the ecosystem. The poet’s lower-case persona inhabits insubstantial air as a voice, and then sinks in a moment of transcendence into a star. In addition, the star is iconically present within the air and on the page. Moreover, the poem ends not with the period, but with white space, resisting closure. In this paper, we will show how Cummings uses devices like these to emphasize and enact dynamic transformations in, between, and among poems, positing “meaning” as a continual process, transformation, and co- incidence of “now” moments of being. By means of a heightened iconic precision, Cummings persuades the reader to become aware again of his or her original ecological being.


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