EIMI Notes


These notes remain a work in progress. I have translated many of the French phrases, but not all, and have translated only those Russian words that do not appear in Cummings' glossary of "R words" at the end of his Preface. I have transposed the dialect of the character called the Noo Englundur only when it seemed particularly difficult to decipher or when he attempts to speak French. Many characters remain unidentified (and some are no doubt unidentifiable). I would particularly like to identify the following characters: the "great Russian dramatist" (also called "romp") and "1 small American newspaperman" (94 / 92). Also, who is "gentle" (264 / 256)? [I am indebted to Jacques Demarcq for many references and notes in the first six chapters.]


EIMI is Cummings' account of his trip to Russia in 1931. It was first published by Covici, Friede in 1933, reprinted by William Sloane in 1949, and reprinted by Grove Press, with an explanatory preface by EEC, in 1958. All of these older editions have the same pagination, and all are out of print. The new edition of EIMI was published by Liveright in November, 2007. Short excerpts from EIMI are also reprinted in i: six nonlectures and in AnOther E. E. Cummings. In the notes that follow, the first page number is that of the new edition, the second that of the older editions.

Further reading:

  • EEC's comments on the Lenin's Tomb passage.
  • Blumenkranz, Carla. "The Enormous Poem: When E.E. Cummings repunctuated Stalinism." Rev. of EIMI by E. E. Cummings. New York: Liveright, 2007. Poetry Foundation n.d. Web. 
  • Farley, David. "E. E. Cummings: Intourist in the Unworld." Spring: The Journal of the E. E. Cummings Society 12 (2003): 86-106.
  • Friedman, Norman. "Eimi (1933)." E. E. Cummings: The Growth of a Writer. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1964. 109-124.
  • Huang-Tiller, Gillian. "Reflecting EIMI: The Iconic Meta-Sonnet, Manhood, and Cultural Crisis in E. E. Cummings' No Thanks." Words into Pictures: E. E. Cummings' Art Across Borders. Eds. Jiří Flajšar and Zénó Vernyik. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007. 27-57.
  • Kennedy, Richard S. "Anne and Russia." Dreams in the Mirror: A Biography of E. E. Cummings. New York: Liveright, 1980. 304-315. 
  • ---. "The Unworld Visited." Dreams in the Mirror. 327-335.
  • Moe, Aaron. "Cummings' Urban Ecology: An Exploration of EIMI, No Thanks, & the Cultivation of the Ecological Self." ISLE:  Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 18.4 (2011): 737-762. Print and Web.
  • Moore, Marianne. "A Penguin in Moscow: Eimi, by E. E. Cummings." Poetry 42 (August 1933): 277-281. Rpt. in The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore. Ed. Patricia C. Willis. New York: Penguin, 1987. 301-303.
  • Webster, Michael. "Lugete: The Divine Lost and Found Child in Cummings." Spring: The Journal of the E. E. Cummings Society 19 (2012): 37-49.

Eimi cover, 2007

Cover of the 2007 Liveright edition of EIMI

 

1 / 3: "ça ne vous fait rien si je me déshabille?" = "You won't be bothered if I undress?" [French]. The deuxième coffin = second coffin, i.e., the second-class sleeping car. The funeral director = the conductor or a porter. a troisième common grave = a third class car. cakes & ale by mister mome = Somerset Maugham, Cakes and Ale: or, the Skeleton in the Cupboard (1930). "essen" = eat [German]. nie wychylać sie . . . = "Do not lean out / do not open the doors / you will be fined" [Polish].

 
5 / 6: I was chez the gentleman from Vienna = I was at Freud's place = I was dreaming
.


5 / 6: Frank  E. Campbell =  the conductor or sleeping car porter. Cummings gives him the name of a "Funeral Chapel" in New York City:  "Known for Excellence - Trusted for Value - Since 1898." See http://www.frankecampbell.com/.

 

5 / 6: Unser Gott = "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott" ["A mighty fortress is our God"] = inscription on German coins featuring the bust of Martin Luther, author of the hymn.


6 / 7: N = Negoreloe, the border-town where EEC enters Russia. (See pages 33 / 32, 40.) Vladimir Feshchenko and Emily Wright point out that, "apart from the name of the station (Negoreloye), this can be an allusion to a widely spread image of a 'provincial town of N' in 19th century Russian literature (Gogol, Dostoevsky, Chekhov)."

 

10 / 11: terrace of the maggots = terrace of the Café des Deux Magots, Paris. The Russian artists Mikhail Larionov (1881-1964) and Natalya Goncharova (1881-1962) lived in exile in Paris. Here is Cummings' drawing of Larionov from CIOPW (1931).

 

11: un heure de retard = one hour late [French]. Besetzt = occupied, full, taken [German]. Pays magnifique, n'est-ce pas? = Magnificent country, no? [French].

12 / 13: that prominent Russian writer = Vladimir Lidin, who is supposed to meet Cummings at the station. The prominent Russian-in-Paris novelist = Ilya Ehrenburg (see page 31). farfamed sister = "Mrs. Lili Brik, the sister of Elsa Triolet, Louis Aragon's wife" (Kennedy 311). Cummings names Lily Brik "the perfume girl" and "Mme. Potiphar." See pp. 53-54 and the "Friday 15" chapter (61-73 / 60-72).

 

13: a mystic word = most likely the Russian word for "taxi."

 

13 / 14: fiacre = horse-drawn taxi [French]. wonderful one hoss shays = EEC alludes to Oliver Wendell Holmes' poem "The Deacon's Masterpiece or, the Wonderful 'One-hoss Shay': A Logical Story" (1858). The poem is about a "wonderful" one-horse carriage that lasts exactly one hundred years. The last two lines are: "End of the wonderful one-hoss shay. / Logic is logic. That's all I say."


14 / 15: this is the Hotel Metropole = the Hotel Metropol, an art nouveau structure opened in 1901. Official site: http://www.metropol-moscow.ru/en/. "not in valyootah / valuta" = "not in hard currency."

 

15: "And they talk . . ." = "For a moment she rested against me / Like a swallow half blown to the wall, /And they talk of Swinburne's women, / And the shepherdesses meeting with Guido, / And the harlots of Baudelaire." --Ezra Pound, "Shop Girl" in Lustra (1916). poules = "hens," French slang for prostitutes. See page 418 / 399.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana

16 / 17: 1 ultrabenevolent denizen of Cambridge Mass = "Virgil" or "mentor," later referred to as "ex-mentor" or simply "ex-" = Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Harry) Dana (1881-1950), "a . . . Professor studying Russian theater" (Kennedy 309) and Cummings' first guide. At left: Dana dressed in Russian costume on the porch of the Longfellow house in Cambridge, Mass. (circa 1935). The stack of papers is probably his collection of scripts and notes on the Soviet theatre. The Dana collection of Russian theatrical scripts and papers is now housed at the Houghton Library, Harvard University. See also: brief biography (with another photo) of Harry Dana [Longfellow National Historic Site].

16-17 / 17: Volks = VOKS, "The All-Union Society for Cultural Relations Abroad," bureau in charge of cultural relations in general and organizing informational tours in particular. See pp. 119 / 117, 153 / 149.

18: Gene Tunney = James Joseph "Gene" Tunney (1897-1978), heavyweight champion from 1926 to 1928. He defeated Jack Dempsey twice, in 1926 and 1927.

 

20: why can't I remember to erase those 2 = when he crossed the border, Cummings noted on his passport "under 'Visas', the carefully pencilled forgot to erase them Russian equivalents for WC [toilet] and sonofabitch" (7/8). See also page 42.

 

20 / 21: "Eheu fugaces . . ." = Horace, Odes, II, 14:

 

Eheu fugaces, Postume, Postume,

labuntur anni nec pietas moram

   rugis et instanti senectae

      adferet indomitaeque morti:

 

"Ah, Postumus, Postumus, how fleeting / the swift years--prayer cannot delay / the furrows of imminent old-age / nor hold off unconquerable death." (Cf. page 220 / 213, as well as CP 234 and CP 492.)

 

24: Gay-Pay-Oo = GPU, acronym for "Gosudarstvennoye Politicheskoye Upravlenie," or "State Political Directorate," name of the secret police of the Soviet Union (1922-1934). See also pages 49-50, 117/114, 197/192, 199/193, 202/197, 206/200, 293-294/284-285, and 303/294.

25: Very Bad Childs' = a very bad cafeteria. Childs was a cafeteria chain in New York in the 20s and 30s. (See also pages 36 and 39.) "The restaurants were outfitted with white-tiled walls and floors and white marble countertops, and the employees dressed in starched white uniforms to convey a sense of cleanliness." See Diana Cardwell's, "A Piece of Coney Island's Past Wins Landmark Status."

25: The Slogan of Slogans = EEC's Preface indicates that this slogan is "Religion is the Opium of the People" (xvii / iii). L's M = Lenin's Mausoleum. hard by are buried martyrs = the Kremlin Wall necropolis, where heroes of October revolution were buried in mass graves.

25: Something Fabulous = St. Basil's Cathedral. See pp.91 / 89, 106 / 104, 110 / 108.


26: the devil is sick,the devil a monk = "The DEVIL was sick, the Devil a saint would be; the Devil was well, the devil a saint was he! [Promises made in adversity may not be kept in  prosperity. Cf. medieval L. aegrotavit daemon, monachus tunc esse volebat; daemon  convaluit, daemon ut ante fuit, when the Devil was ill, he wished to be a monk; when the Devil recovered, he was the Devil just as before; 1586 J. Withals Dict. (rev. ed.).]"

--The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs


26: Pavlov's work? --Virgil refers to Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936), famous for his work in conditioned reflexes.

26: Pope Watson = John Broadus Watson (1878-1958), American psychologist and founder of behaviorism. Cummings' nonsensical comment may be reordered to read: "you ring a bell and show your child a snake."  Watson's infamous "Little Albert" experiment conditioned an 11-month-old boy to fear a white rat by “clanging an iron rod."  For more on responding to the ringing of bells, see pp. 185-186/180-81 and 191/186.) [Thanks to Vladimir Feshchenko and Emily Wright for finding the correct Watson.]

27: livid pygmy = "livid" = "the tactician." He reappears on pages 38-39 and 197 / 192.

27: American stripling . . . in a Russian blouse = David Sinclair (1901-1987), whose distinguished father is the writer Upton Sinclair (1878-1968), author of The Jungle (1906), a novel that exposed appalling conditions in Chicago meat packing plants. In 1930-31, Upton Sinclair helped finance Sergei Eisenstein's Que Viva Mexico!.
Radcliffe helpmate = David Sinclair's wife, Bettina Mikol, "the daughter of a socialist and union organizer, [she] worked as an editor at Columbia University for an academic journal, Political Science Quarterly" (Arthur 210). Anthony Arthur writes that even though the couple "were disillusioned by their observations of corruption, tyranny, and matchless inefficiency in Russia, they remained staunch socialists" (250). The couple is also called "Grouch" and "Scratch." See pages 76-77/75-80, 154-160/150-156.

St. Basil's Cathedral

 
30:  when I was in Wien --Perhaps Cummings speaks of the aftermath of riots that occurred in Vienna on July 15, 1927. The New York Times reported the following day: "At least forty are dead and 200 have been wounded in fighting which followed a sudden revolutionary uprising of Vienna workers which began last night and continued all day today. The revolutionists are now in control of the centre of the city where street barricades are being erected. The demonstration, which rapidly developed revolutionary tendencies, began after a Vienna jury, despite their plea of guilty, had acquitted three Fascists who last January shot and killed a Socialist and his child."


30: president of Writers' Club = Vladimir Feshchenko and Emily Wright suggest that president of the Writers' Club "might be Leopold Leonidovich Averbakh (1903–1937), Soviet literary critic, head of proletarian writers, Secretary General of RAPP in 1931." (See note to page 56.) Writers' Club = Herzern House, Tverskoy Boulevard 25, birthplace of nineteenth century socialist Alexander Ivanovich Herzen (1812-1870). This house was the headquarters of quite a few literary organizations, among them The Russian Association of Proletarian Writers (RAPP). It is now the Gorky Literature Institute. 


31: John Boyle = Irish-American poet John Boyle O'Reilly (1844-1890). EEC alludes to O'Reilly's poem "Unspoken Words," which actually makes the opposite point about speaking up: "Unspoken words, like treasures in the mine, / Are valueless until we give them birth." [Thanks to Vladimir Feshchenko and Emily Wright for this note.]

32: Proletcult = "First Workers Theatre of Proletarian Culture" (Dana 24). Selah = Hebrew word of uncertain meaning that appears at the end of some psalms in the Bible. See 351/338.


32-34: The Necktie = 1930 play by Anatoly Glebov (1899-1964). Dana says that it ridicules "an over-zealous Communist who objects to neckties as bourgeois" (Handbook 73).


33: settingupexercises = "Any one of a series of gymnastic exercises used, as in drilling recruits, for the purpose of giving an erect carriage, supple muscles, and an easy control of the limbs." –Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)


34: traumdeutungs = "dream meanings" [German]. EEC refers to Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), whose German title is Die Traumdeutung. The book discusses Freud's notion that dreams are forms of wish fulfillment. See note to page 5/6.

35: give us two photographs? for Cummings' internal Russian passport Cf. 222 / 214-15 and 234-235 / 227-228.

36. East Maxman = Max Eastman (1883-1969), a good friend of Cummings who was early a champion of the Russian Revolution, editor of the journal The Masses from 1913-1918, founder of the left-wing journal The Liberator, translator of Trotsky, and after 1940, a fervent anti-communist. In "The Cult of Unintelligibility" (1929), an essay against modernist obscurity, Eastman wrote:

 

If you pick up a book by Hart Crane, E. E. Cummings, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Edith Sitwell, or any of the "modernists," and read a page innocently, I think the first feeling you will have is that the author isn't telling you anything. It may seem that he isn't telling you anything because he doesn't know anything. Or it may seem that he knows something all right, but he won't tell. In any case he is uncommunicative. He is unfriendly. He seems to be playing by himself and offering you somewhat incidentally the opportunity to look on (632).

 

36: Charybdis and Scylla = the whirlpool and six-headed monster between which Odysseus must steer in book 12 of Homer's Odyssey. EEC refers to T. S. Eliot's Waste Land and to his "Hollow Men": "Between the desire / And the spasm / Between the potency / And the existence / Between the essence / And the descent / Falls the Shadow" (82).

 

37 / 36: the Torgsin = special shop that sold all manner of luxury goods and food, accepting only valuta, foreign currency or precious metal, in payment. When Cummings was in Russia, only foreigners could shop at Torgsin. Eugene Lyons asserts that the "word Torgsin, in fact, is an abbreviation for 'trade with foreigners' " (448).

 

38: John Benet's Body--refers to Stephen Vincent Benét (1898-1943) and his epic poem of the Civil War, John Brown's Body (1928), winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1929.

 

39: O'Jean Euneil = Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953), American dramatist, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1920 and 1928 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1936. Early in his career, O'Neill's plays were produced by the Provincetown Playhouse, the same group that produced Cummings' drama Him in 1928.

 

40: Maydan ah-ghan? = μηδέν ἄγαν / Mêdén agan = "nothing too much" or "nothing in excess," inscription on the temple of Apollo in Delphi [Greek].

 

42 / 41: ecco = behold" [Italian].

 

42: That word = the Russian word for "toilet," given by Virgil below.

 

41: Duranty = Walter Duranty (1884-1957), journalist who had lived in the Soviet Union for many years. EEC never meets with Duranty, but he does see him across the room at a party at god's (217 / 210). For a short biography of Duranty, see the Wikipedia entry (actually not too bad).

41: AngelPenguin . . . Homeless One = Charlie Chaplin.

 

44 / 43: Arise,thou Bloom! --refers to Leopold Bloom, the main character in James Joyce's Ulysses. Joyce famously describes Bloom's morning visit to the outhouse in chapter 4.

 

45: The West Is Nervous = 1931 drama by Vladimir Bill-Belotserkovski (1884-1970). Dana says it depicts "the fear in Germany of Russian Communism" (Handbook 69).

 

49 / 48: Rockyfeller's Manship most likely refers to the bust of John D. Rockefeller by sculptor Paul Manship (1885-1966), now at the National Portrait Gallery. Manship also made the Prometheus sculpture (1934) for Rockefeller Center.


49 / 48: Thih Seauton = "you yourself" [Greek]. Cummings refers to the motto gnôthi seauton [γνῶθι σεαυτόν], "Know Thyself," carved on the temple of Apollo at Delphi. See also Ralph Waldo Emerson's poem “Gnothi Seauton”: “Thou art thyself that doth dispense / Wealth to thy work, want to thy sloth, / Glory to goodness, to neglect, the moth.”
Carrie Nation
= also known as Carry A. Nation (1846-1911), she was an advocate of temperance who in 1901 began smashing bars with a hatchet.

 

50 / 49: Krazy Kat = comic strip cat beloved by Cummings. thy poet = George Herriman (1880-1944), cartoonist. In "The Krazy Kat That Walks by Himself," an essay in his book The Seven Lively Arts (1924), Cummings' friend Gilbert Seldes wrote:


In one of his most metaphysical pictures Herriman presents Krazy as saying to Ignatz: "I ain't a Kat . . . and I ain't Krazy" (I put dots to indicate the lunatic shifting of background which goes on while these remarks are made; although the action is continuous and the characters motionless, it is in keeping with Herriman's method to have the backdrop in a continual state of agitation; you never  know when a shrub will become. a redwood, or a hut a church) . . . "it's wot's behind me that I am . . . it's the idea behind me, 'Ignatz' and that's wot I am." In an attitude of a contortionist Krazy points to the blank space behind him, and it is there that we must look for the "Idea." (234-235).

 
See also 
Taimi Olsen's article " 'Krazies...of indescribable beauty':  George Herriman’s 'Krazy Kat' and E. E. Cummings."

51: Gorky = Maxim Gorky [Aleksei Maksimovich Peshkov] (1868-1936), novelist and playwright. Author of The Lower Depths (1902) and Mother (1906-07), he left Russia in 1921 for treatment for tuberculosis, returning "amid great public fanfare" in 1928. Cummings attends a "Gorky-festival" on pages 181-183 / 176-178.

51: every coin has two sides: EEC is probably referring to these lines from stanza 12 of Emerson's "The Sphinx":

Eterne alternation
  Now follows, now flies;
And under pain, pleasure,--
  Under pleasure, pain lies.
Love works at the centre.


See the coin metaphor in the second stanza of "hate blows a bubble of despair into" (CP 531).
 

51-52: I'm quoting Emerson. EEC quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Brahma":

 

Far or forgot to me is near;

   Shadow and sunlight are the same;

The vanished gods to me appear;

   And one to me are shame and fame.

 

They reckon ill who leave me out

   When me they fly, I am the wings;

I am the doubter and the doubt,

   And I the hymn the Brahmin sings. (Emerson 524)

 

After resigning from the Second Church in October 1832, Emerson traveled to Italy, France, England and Scotland, formulating many of his ideas on self-reliance and nature.

 

52: Millikan = Robert Andrews Millikan (1868-1953), American physicist and winner of the 1923 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on the photoelectric effect and measuring the charge on electrons. Later, he worked on cosmic radiation and coined the term "cosmic rays."


53: the perfume girl = Lilya or Lily Brik (1891-1978), older sister of Elsa Triolet (1896-1970), who is the wife of French surrealist and communist Louis Aragon (1897-1982). Elsa has given Cummings some fashion magazines and perfume to take as a present to her sister in Moscow. Later, Cummings will comment on translating Aragon's poem "The Red Front" (145-146 / 142-143). Lily Brik's first husband was Osip Brik (1888-1945), the "unhe" who attempts to indoctrinate EEC on pages 69-73/68-72. Her second husband was Soviet General Vitali Primakov (1897-1937), the "hero" (67/66) of Cummings' account. Lily lives with Primakov and with Brik, her former husband.


54: her first husband. . .who killed himself = Virgil refers to Lily Brik's former lover (not husband), the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930), who killed himself on April 14, 1930.
"He that can live without food can die without tobacco." Source unknown.

 

56: president of . . . Writers' Club Vladimir Feshchenko and Emily Wright suggest that president of the Writers' Club "might be Leopold Leonidovich Averbakh (1903–1937), Soviet literary critic, head of proletarian writers, Secretary General of RAPP in 1931." See note to page 30.

57 / 56: Gods of the Lightning = Apparently Cummings is mistaken; Dana lists Maxwell Anderson's Gods of the Lightning (a play loosely based on  the Sacco and Vanzetti case) among the foreign plays translated and presented in Russian (Handbook 52).


57 / 56: the mysterious other being a "monosyllable"--probably Ezra Pound. See page 84 / 83 for Pound's message to the Russians.

57 / 56: Clairsin Islew = anagram for Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951), author of the novels Main Street (1920) and Babbitt (1922). In 1930 Lewis became the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
 

57: Something play = Roar, China (1926), written by Sergei Tretyakov (1892-1939--cf. Preface xviii / iv and Kennedy 312). This play was translated into English in 1931. Dana describes it as depicting "the uprising of the coolies against British imperialism in China in 1926" (Handbook 91). Still photo from Meyerhold's 1926 production of Roar, China

 

59 / 58: Tverskaya = the main shopping street in Moscow. For UP correspondent Eugene Lyons, who arrived in Moscow in 1928, the Tverskaya symbolized "the half-socialist half-capitalist Russia" of the New Economic Policy that was gradually being replaced by the new Russia of state-controlled Five Year Plans (81-87).

61 / 60: Madame Potiphar = Lily Brik. (See note to page 53.) The book of Genesis narrates how Joseph was a slave for Potiphar, who made Joseph the overseer of his household. Potiphar's wife attempted to seduce Joseph, and when she was rebuffed, she claimed that he had tried to rape her. See Genesis 39: 1-23.

61 / 60: Resurrection: Virgil is worn out because he has been up all night reading Leo Tolstoy's novel Resurrection (1899). "Resurrection" (Воскресенье) is also the Russian name for Sunday, a symbol in EIMI of the rebirth or re-creation that Virgil does not experience. (See note to page 91 / 89.)

62 / 61: I'm using a sleeping-dictionary: The "thickset . . . newspaperman" refers to his Russian girlfriend, who sleeps with him and provides translations. This "sleeping dictionary correspondent" shows Cummings his room on page 111 / 109.
62 / 61: A great Godlike voice = perhaps the voice of "god," i.e., Victor Eubanks, AP correspondent? See page 141 / 138.


65 / 64:  Et où . . . est votre camarade? = "And where is your comrade?" [i.e., Virgil]. il n'est pas méchant du tout . . . même pas assez = "He's not at all mean . . . not even enough" [French].


3 fisted Mayakovsky

65 / 64: 3 fisted = poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. (See pp. 54, 69 / 68, 71 / 70.) Eugene Lyons saw Mayakovsky as a "romanticist" and aesthete who wore the façade of a hardboiled communist. When the poet Sergei Esenin killed himself, Mayakovsky "wept over his death, but castigated that futile gesture. 'In this life it is easy to die,' he wrote, '--to build life is hard' " (Lyons 301). For Lyons, Mayakovsky's suicide indicated the "tragedy" that results when individual emotions are forced to bend to political ideals (301-303). For Esenin, see the notes to pages 162-164 / 157-159 and 238 / 230-231. 

[At left: a 3-fisted photograph of Mayakovsky by Alexander Rodchenko (1924)]


66 / 65: Non.  Et je vous en prie,Madame, ne me demandez pas . . . = No.  And I entreat you, Madame, do not ask me why I came to Russia; because I do not know myself" [French]. (See pages 15-16/16-17, 190/185, and 241/234.) "Voici" naming husband = "Here is" [Osip Brik] (1888-1945), alias "unhe." See note to page 53.


76 / 75: Crank Frowninshield = Frank Crowninshield (1872-1947), editor of Vanity Fair, 1914-1936. The comic sketches that Cummings published in Vanity Fair in the mid-'20s have been reprinted in the Miscellany Revised.


a wee carrotheaded Englishman . . . Clara = the character EEC calls "Clara Bow" is probably Ralph Fox (1900-1937), an Oxford graduate who emigrated to Moscow in 1925, working first for the Comintern and later for the Revolutionary Literature Bureau. (See note to page 93/91.) He published political and literary essays before being killed in the Spanish Civil War. He is named for his resemblance to the famous silent movie star Clara Bow, known as the It girl. Cummings hands over his translation of Louis Aragon's poem, "The Red Front," to "Clara Bow" on page 180 / 175. [Thanks to Jacques Demarcq for the information on Ralph Fox.]


77 / 76: Mr. Khoury's kibbeh krass = "[EEC and Slater Brown] dined frequently at Khoury's restaurant at 95 Washington Street on the Battery, for they loved Middle Eastern food: shish kebab, stuffed vine leaves, and the Syrian ways of cooking eggplant that brought tears of sensual joy to Cummings' eyes" (Kennedy 164).


78 / 77: Frankie and Johnny Were = the first line of the popular African-American folk song "The Ballad of Frankie and Johnny." Act II, scene v of Cummings' drama Him (1927) features a choral jazz performance of the song. In Cummings' version, the first stanza reads:

Frankie and Johnny were lovers
sweet Christ how they could love
they swore to be true to each other
as true as the stars above
        but he was a man
        and he done her wrong     (51)

 

79 / 78: The slightly sticky gent who fails to introduce his sleeping dictionary may or may not be the same correspondent introduced on page 62/ 61. See also page 111 / 109.


80 / 79: immortal Marianne! = Marianne Moore. EEC refers to two lines from her poem "To a Steam Roller":  "As for butterflies, I can hardly conceive / of one's attending upon you [the steam roller]" (92).


81 / 79: two copies of one book by Jack Reed = Ten Days that Shook the World (1919), a first-hand account of the Bolshevik Revolution written by American journalist John Reed (1887-1920), a must-have volume for would-be socialists in the 1930s. Shortly after finishing the book, Reed died of typhus and was buried at the Kremlin wall with other heroes of the October revolution.

81 / 80: his father is such a great writer! = Upton Sinclair. See page 27.

82 / 81: fat & cadaverous = Jill and Jack = Valeriya Anatolevna Gerasimova (1903-1978) and Alexander Alexandrovich Fadeyev (1901-1956). Cummings meets this couple while searching for a room (75/74) and is invited for dinner (76/75). Cummings' friend and fellow writer John Dos Passos (see below) stayed with the couple in October-November of 1928. In his memoir The Best Times, Dos Passos writes that Gerasimova "was high up in the Gay Pay U. They had a cheerful consomolska for a maid and lived simply but well. . . . Fadyeev's friends could speak freely about all sorts of topics. No danger of having what you said reported to the Gay Pay U. This was the Gay Pay U" (193-194). While Cummings does not mention that Gerasimova worked for the GPU, he does notice how Jill "directs . . . her Jack's every move;following our rickety train of thought a thought more closely than any ambulance-chasing lawyer pursues his accident" (84/83).

83 / 81: Novelist Sir Dry = most likely Theodore Dreiser, American novelist, author of many big books, including Sister Carrie (1900) and An American Tragedy (1925). He visited the Soviet Union in 1927 and wrote of his experiences in Dreiser Looks at Russia (1928). The "Nov. 18- 1927" entry in Dreiser's Russian Diary records that he had dinner with Vladimir Mayakovsky, Osip Brik, and Lili Brik, after which the party went to a theatre, and finally "road [sic] home through driving snow in an izvozchik." It seems pertinant to note that Dos Passos' opinion of Dreiser was much higher than Gerasimova's.

 

83 / 82: "très gentilNous avons tous beaucoup bu . . ." = "Very nice, amiable. We had all drunk a lot, and then he didn't want to go home.  So, my husband made him up a bed here."

Dos Passos, 1936

83 / 82: John Dos Passos (1896-1970), good friend of Cummings and the author of such novels as Three Soldiers (1921), Manhattan Transfer (1925), and the U.S.A. trilogy, The 42nd Parallel (1930), Nineteen Nineteen (1932), and The Big Money (1936). 

 

83 / 82: "pour qu'elle peut respirer" = "so she can breathe." "Bis!" = "Twice!" or "Again!" "alors,l'enfant demandait . . ." = "so, the child asked: is he crazy mama?"


84 / 83: my Persian friend = S. A. Jacobs, Cummings' personal typesetter.

comrade Vaillant-Couturier = Paul Vaillant-Couturier (1892-1937) French writer, one of the founders of the French communist party, and an editor-in-chief of the party newspaper, L'Humanité.

88 / 86: the 5 day week = From the autumn of 1929 to the summer of 1931, the Soviet Union decided to overlay a five day week on top of the Gregorian calendar that it adopted in 1918. This system divided the year into 72 five day weeks (360 days), plus five national holidays. Each worker was assigned one day of the five as a day off. (This rotating schedule was indicated on calendars by the Roman numerals I-V and/or five colors.) The system was designed to ensure continuous production in the factories, but it was abandoned because family members and friends of workers seldom if ever had the same day off, and the machines in the factories broke down much more often without regular down-time and maintenance.


89 / 87: "Quand je suis venu ici . . ." = "When I came here from Poland, I was sure that the Russian workers were forced to work. Now I know that that is not true; and I swear to you that the only force that makes them work is that of propaganda." "Vous écrivez vous-même . . ." = "You write yourself, so you understand the power of the word" [French].

 

89 / 87: Stephen Dedalus = hero of James Joyce's novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916). The scene in which Stephen refuses the call to the priesthood occurs in chapter IV.

 

89 / 88: the Verb is actually or imagining,which cannot ever be translated -- Cummings later gives the following definition of poetry: "whatever cannot be translated!" (140 / 137-38).


91 / 89: shaving à la russe,in the eau chaude of this diminutive teapot . . . = shaving in the Russian manner, in the hot water of the teapot that sits atop the samovar. Russians mangent beaucoup = "Russians eat a lot" [French].

91 / 89: voskresaynyeh = Sunday = "Resurrection" (Воскресенье). Cummings says he was born on this day of the week, and throughout EIMI, he is reborn. (See, for example pages 131 / 129 and 248-251 / 240-243.) These rebirths often involve moving from a shut, closed-in space (like Lenin's tomb) into the open air. See also the first and last words of the book.
a day which doesn't exist = Sunday. Though the names for the days of the week were still in use, under the five day week system, Sunday was no longer set aside as a day of rest, and it was effectively eliminated as a religious holiday. Since a worker's day off could come on any day of the week, no day was more important than any other. But Sunday is an important symbol of resurrection and rebirth in EIMI: the book begins and ends on a Sunday (May 10 and June 14), so the chapters follow a pattern of 1 - 6- 1 - 6 - 1 - 6 - 1 - 6 - 1 - 6 - 1. There are six Sundays with six days between each of them, making a total of five weeks and 36 days. Thus: May 10 + 6 + May 17 + 6 + May 24 + 6 + May 31 + 6 + June 7 + 6 + June 14 = 36. Since rebirth (and its symbol, moving into fresh air) occurs in non-Sunday chapters as well, the 1 - 6- 1 - 6 - 1 - 6 - 1 - 6 - 1 - 6 - 1 chapter pattern indicates that rebirth is cyclical, recurring throughout the book and throughout life.

91 / 89: a day which doesn't exist: Cummings mentions the non-existence of Sunday on each of the four Sundays he spends in Russia: May 17 (91/89), May 24 (180/175), May 31 (255/247), and June 7 (347/334). Cummings' insistence on the existence of Sunday (plus a six-day week) counters the Soviet arithmetic of the five-day week (88/86) and the five year plan achieved (supposedly) in four years (154/150).

92 / 90: a woman with a big baby = a Madonna with Christ as a young man.

92 / 90: "in which" sings "if they turn and twist . . ." = the last line of Marianne Moore's poem "A Grave."


93 / 91: Otto . . . Can't is "a Romanian member of MORP, the Revolutionary Literature Bureau, which was subordinate to the Comintern and run by mainly foreign communist writers in Moscow at this stage" (Emily Lygo). Andrew Hemingway writes that this bureau "acted as a kind of literary international for the promotion of proletarian writing" (19). It is here that Otto gives Cummings the text of Louis Aragon's poem "Le Front Rouge" (The Red Front), which Cummings thinks about translating on pp. 100/97-98 and actually translates on pages 140/137 and 145-46/142-143. EEC's translation was published in Literature of the World Revolution, the journal of the Revolutionary Literature Bureau. Otto is probably named Can't because he is concerned with disseminating translations, and as Cummings notes, "poetry equals: whatever cannot be translated!" (140/137).


93 / 91: daughter of Lack Dungeon = Joan London Malamuth (1901-1971), daughter of Jack London, "alias BEATRICE (in relation to VIRGIL) alias Turkess or Harem" (Preface  xvi / ii). her husband = "the TURK, sometimes called Assyrian or that bourgeois face or Charlie" = Charles Malamuth (1899-1965), Russian scholar and newspaper correspondent (Kennedy 311-312). While Cummings was in Moscow, Malamuth was substituting for Eugene Lyons, United Press correspondent. In November of 1930, Lyons and Malamuth interviewed Stalin (cf. Bassow 73; Lyons 381-392). The Malamuths lived at the mansion of Dr. Armand Hammer (called "Chinesey"), an American entrepreneur in Moscow. (See Bassow 81-82, Lyons 293-98.)

 

At right: Charles Malamuth and his "bourgeois face."

[Photo from Stasz, Jack London's Women, between pages 210-211. This may be a photo that Cummings took in 1931 in Moscow. See pages 263 / 255.]

Charles Malamuth


Young Armand Hammer 93 / 91: the doctor whom you met = Chinesey = Dr. Armand Hammer, American entrepreneur and (at the time) Communist sympathizer, he was much involved in buying up Russian art from the Czarist period (including the famous Fabergé eggs--see pp. 55-56). According to Fabergé expert Géza von Habsburg, "Hammer arrived here in New York in 1931 with thousands of Russian works of art to be sold on behalf of the Soviets" ("…the fate of the eggs"). Hammer's autobiographies make it clear that he collected art for himself, securing assurances that he could take out of Russia his "collection of art treasures" (Quest 201, Hammer 189). See also pp. 198/192-93.

94 / 92: (a)1 great Russian poet & novelist = Vladimir Lidin, a.k.a. "flowerbuyer."

(b)1 great Russian dramatist = "romp" = ?

(c)1 small American newspaperman = ?

(d)the best looking female = Joan London ("Harem").

 

95 / 93: "je savais que vous étiez écrivain . . ." = "I knew that you were a writer, but"(delicately)"everybody in that train station looked like a writer" [French].

 

96 / 93: "Madame, si vous voulez voir la pièce de votre père . . ." = "Madame, if you want to see the play [based on a short story] by your father, we need to leave immediately" [French]. 

 

97 / 94: Harvard Coop credentials = Virgil's notebook from the Harvard Cooperative Society (see page 33).

 

99 / 97: La belle au bois dormant by Glossina palpalis = "Sleeping Beauty by a tsetse fly." Glossina palpalis is the scientific name for a species of tsetse fly: these flies transmit single-celled organisms called trypanosomes, causing trypanosomiasis, commonly known as "sleeping sickness."


106 / 104: nonmeeter = "flowerbuyer" = novelist Vladimir Lidin, who was supposed to meet Cummings at the station. (See page 12 / 13.)

 

109 / 107: companion of the way = a fellow traveler, which also can mean someone who is not a Communist party member. 

 

110 / 108: Arabian Nights = St. Basil's Cathedral. Compare / contrast this story with the one on page 106 / 104.


111 / 109: stepping from elevator at pyaht / pyatch self = Cummings has moved to the fifth floor, but also perhaps to a fifth self.
aetat nil = "of no date" [Latin].


110 / 108: Il veut la révolution . . . vive la révolution mondiale! = "He is for the revolution . . . long live world revolution! All the same, he is not a mean sort of fellow. . . . Not even bad."

112 / 109: Vtoroi Mchat = the Second Moscow Arts Theatre. "Mchat refers to the Moscow Arts Theatre founded by Stanislavsky (Moskovskii Khudozhestvennyi Akademicheskii Teatr = MKhAT); vtoroi (second) refers to what is sometimes known as its second studio. The 'Second MKhat' was founded in 1912 as a new studio based on Stanislavsky's founding principles, but aiming to reinvigorate Russian theatre." [Note courtesy Emily Lygo]

116 / 114: argyrol = a silver-protein compound used as a local antiseptic.

117 / 114: Phi Beta Kappa = a GPU agent. See also pages 197/192 and 199/193.

123 / 121: Prince . . . Igor = Prince Igor, an opera in four acts composed in large part by Alexander Borodin (1833-1887) and completed after his death by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov.


Nikita Balieff

125 / 123: Balieff = Nikita Balieff (1877-1936), an Armenian-Russian vaudevillian who emigrated to Paris after the Russian Revolution in 1917. Between 1922 and 1929, Balieff and his troupe toured America six times.


[At left: Balieff on the cover of TIME,
October 17, 1927. "New Plays in Manhattan" (TIME article on Balieff and his troupe, Monday, Oct. 17, 1927).]


130  / 127: em eye en ee = m-i-n-e = "mine." The new edition reads em eye em ee;--this is an error. [For the second "em" read "en"]

 

130 / 127: a wolfboy. See page 113 / 111.

 

131 / 129: & so at twilight we 3 enter this forest--This dreamlike scene actually happened. Kennedy tells how in 1924 when Elaine was pressing Cummings for a divorce, Sibley Watson and his wife Hildegarde invited EEC to spend some time with them at their "summer camp" in the Adirondacks. "Here, talking out his misery with the gentle Hildegarde and the laconic Sibley, he found more psychic relief than he had known for weeks. That night he slept out under the pine trees and woke the next morning to the murmur of a nearby brook. Years later he wrote his remembrance to Hildegarde: 'I've never forgotten & shall,I hope,never forget my dying night alone in your forest,with healing of fragrance under & around me;& my waking into a mystery of rebirth' " (258). [Kennedy quotes from Letters 185.] Much like Sibley and Hildegarde Watson, the Turk and Turkess assist in the rebirth of a wolfboy

 

131 / 129: clumsy wooden authentic best maid in Moscow = "ogress" (133 / 130). Eugene Lyons gives her first name only: Shura (417-418).
 

132 / 130: Not only has the Turk been up;he's been doing  -- This phrase echoes the last stanza of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life":

Let us, then, be up and doing,
    With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
    Learn to labor and to wait.


132 / 130: the only 2legged Englishspeaking correspondent who can read a Russian newspaper in the original -- The one-legged correspondent who could read Russian was Walter Duranty. (Virgil tells Cummings on page 40 about Duranty's wooden leg. See also page 217 / 210.)


132 / 130: eye of 1 ½Russian comrade secretary = "one half-Russian" = "Nat" = Natalya (Nathalie) Petrovna Shirokikh, secretary whom Charles Malamuth inherited from United Press reporter Eugene Lyons (Bassow 67). Lyons explains that she "was the daughter of an English mother and a Russian father. . . . Nathalie, whose father died early in the revolution, was now the sole support of the family--a tall, good-looking, life-loving girl unscarred by the hardships of the years. She developed into one of the most efficient secretary-interpreters in the American colony" (295-296). Malamuth's own secretary has a nervous tic and is all-Russian (146 / 143). He also has an American social secretary who appears later. Nat is named and further described on page 153 / 149.


133 / 131: --a certain ceremony = taking/giving a bath. "The bathtub, it is true, was tremendously large; but when the heating device, after hours of fussing, yielded only a few gallons of hot water, the size of the bathtub was less a blessing than a jeer" (Lyons 417).

 

135 / 133: Ça sent l'espace = "This feels of space" [French].


136 / 133: Doomed? "Pourquoi?" "Parce qu'il a l'âme russe" = "Why?" "Because he has a Russian soul" [French].


136 / 134: pomum Adami = Adam's apple [Latin].

139 / 136:  & up now pullulating Petrovsky = "the magnificent Hammer place [was] at Petrovsky Pereulok 8, across the street from the squat, carrot-red Korsh theater" (Lyons 296).

141 / 138: 1 semimiddleaged demifairy = "almighty" = "god" = "Victor Eubank, the bureau chief of the Associated Press" (Preface xxi / vii; Kennedy 312). my 1st [book] = The Enormous Room (1922).


141 / 138: Greater Garbo = a pun on Greta Garbo (1905-1990), movie star known for her reclusive individuality.

145 / 142: I'm going to write a book someday = London, Joan. Jack London and His Times: An Unconventional Biography. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1939. With a new Introduction by the author, Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1968.


145 / 142: Otto Can't's giftless gift = Louis Aragon's poem in praise of communist Russia, "The Red Front." On this and the following page, Cummings translates and comments upon this poem. Aragon's poem and Cummings' translation appear on facing pages in the Complete Poems, pp. 880-897. (See the notes to pages 76/75, 93/91, and 430/411.) Vladimir Feshchenko and Emily Wright comment that "The Red Front," was also "translated into Russian in the same year 1931 by Semyon Kirsanov (1906-1972), Russian and Soviet poet, and published as a separate book. Curiously, however, since then this translation has never been republished in Russian, neither in Aragon’s Complete Writings, nor in editions of Kirsanov's translations."

146 / 143: Pippa passes the buck: a reference to the most often quoted verses from Robert Browning's play, Pippa Passes:

The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven --
All's right with the world!


147 / 144: a fascinating old folk tale about the origin of the word 'cuckoo' = In Songs of the Russian People (1872) W. R. S. Ralston writes: "The name of the cuckoo is associated with a singular custom of great antiquity. A few weeks after Easter . . . the village women and girls meet together at some spot in the woods, and there fasten to a bough a figure made of shreds and flowers, and supposed to represent a cuckoo, and underneath it they hang the little pectoral crosses which all Russians bear. Sometimes, instead of this, they pull up by the roots the plant called 'cuckoo-grass' (orchis latifolia), dress it up in a shift, and then bury it in the earth underneath two semicircles of wood set crossways, which they cover with handkerchiefs, and on which they hang crosses" (Ralston 214-215).
    The cuckoo is associated with an effigy or doll because the Russian word for puppet (kukla) resembles the word for the cuckoo and its call (Kukushka). After the women and girls complete the rites with the cuckoo effigies, they sing a song pledging to "Become gossips, love each other, make presents to each other!" Then they kiss each other under an archway of birch branches. W. R. S. Ralston says further: "This is called the 'Christening of the Cuckoos' (kreshchenie kukusëk). When two girls have kissed each other under the decorated arch, and have exchanged crosses, they become 'Gossips' for life, as intimately connected as if, at the christening of a child, they had become attached to each other by the Spiritual ties of co-godmothership" (215). Ralston adds that the girls also sometimes exchange eggs as gifts, and in some provinces, "it is . . . customary for men also to enter into the state of mutual cuckoo-gossipry" (216). Hence the relevance of this custom to the Turk's previous remark that the Russian sailors "wept and kissed" (147/143) after being saluted by an English battleship.


147 / 144: et il pleut = and it’s raining [French].


148 / 145: et j'ai faim! = and I'm hungry! [French].


149 / 146: Something of Something Theatre = Vsevolod Meyerhold (1874-1940), Russian producer / director. See note to pages 162-163 / 157-158.  c'est . . . vous voulez faire sa connaissance? = "It's . . . would you like to meet him?" [French]; je ne sais s'il parle français = "I don't know if he speaks French."

My friend the sculptor = Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967). (This friend is described on page 164/159 as "the man of the strayed face,the mind with the bravely cringing eyes,the noble and droll little sculptor.")

il voudrait vous voir demain soir à six heures! = he'd like to see you tomorrow evening at six! mangez maintenant = "you eat now." non non seulement trent kopecks pourboire,ça suffit = "No, no, only thirty kopecks for a tip--that's enough" [French]

152 / 148: "est-ce qu'elle est vraie?" / "qui?" / "la lune" / l'âme russe,smiling / "oui" = "is she real?" / "who?" / "the moon" / the Russian soul,smiling / "yes" [French].
154 / 149: black marias = police paddy wagons [pronounced
muh-rahy-uhs. As Kevin Young says, "rhymes with pariah."] Eugene Lyons writes: "Every night the big 'black Marias' moved through the stillness collecting another load of undesirables. Coming home late from a party, we often saw these wagons--immense closed-in trucks like American long-distance furniture moving vans, with a row of perforations near the top for air" (433).

154 / 150: Poster:2 + 2 = 5. . . Cummings may have been startled by this slogan because he titled his fifth book is 5. As he explains in the Foreword to is 5: "Ineluctable preoccupation with The Verb gives a poet one priceless advantage:whereas nonmakers must content themselves with the merely undeniable fact that two times two is four,he [the poet] rejoices in a purely irresistible truth(to be found,in abbreviated costume,upon the title page of the present volume" (CP 221).

     Eugene Lyons wrote of this slogan: "The formula 2 + 2 = 5 instantly riveted my attention. It seemed to me at once bold and preposterous--the daring and the paradox and the tragic absurdity of the Soviet scene, its mystical simplicity, its defiance of logic, all reduced to nose-thumbing arithmetic. . . . 2 + 2 = 5: in electric lights on Moscow housefronts, in foot-high letters on billboards, spelled planned error, hyperbole, perverse optimism; something childishly headstrong and stirringly imaginative. . . . 2 + 2 = 5: a slogan born in premature success, tobogganing toward horror and destined to end up, lamely, as 2 + 2¼ = 5" (240).
    Lyons' chapter on the slogan in Assignment in Utopia is the probable source for George Orwell's use of it in 1984 as an example of totalitarian doublethink. Orwell wrote: "In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it."

At right: 2 + 2 = 5, propaganda poster from 1931.
The text reads: "The arithmetic of an industrial-financial counter-plan: 2 + 2 plus the enthusiasm of the workers = 5" [translation Steve Dodson]. Dodson explains that "the 'counter-plan' is the speeded-up plan the workers' collective of a factory allegedly came up with to counter the official plan: 'They say to do it in five years, but we, the socialist workers with our socialist enthusiasm, can do it in four!'  Needless to say, this was not a voluntary 'plan'." The image is from a large page of Soviet posters titled "Galerie d'images: Affiches soviétiques (1920-1941)." This page forms part of the web site www.communisme-bolchevisme.net/.

Link: Photo of a similar poster, "Fulfill the five-year plan not in five years, but in four" (1930).

155 / 151: Coxey's army = an 1894 protest march on Washington D.C. by unemployed workers, led by the populist Jacob Coxey. 
2 + 2 = 5 poster

155 / 151: now we all enter(lasciate ogni  = EEC quotes the first two words of the last sentence of the inscription over the gates of hell in Dante's Inferno, Canto III: "Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate" ["Abandon all hope ye who enter here"].


157 / 152: hidden fear = Lyons says that Natalia Shirokikh's father "died early in the revolution" (295), but whether this is related to her hidden fear is unknown. Cummings remembers the phrase "when they made us lie down" from page 141/138: "but I was thinking of the time they put a revolver to us and made us lie down for them." See also page 263/255.


162-163 / 157-158: Something = Vsevolod Meyerhold (1874-1940), Russian producer / director of Roar, China (Kennedy 312). Cummings describes seeing this "Something play" (written by Sergei Tretyakov) at "Something theatre" on pages 57-59 / 57-58. For a photo of Meyerhold, Tretyakov, Gladkov, Vishnevsky, and others (with commentary), see John Freedman's "Stories Lurk Behind a Forgotten Photo of Vsevolod Meyerhold" [Moscow Times Theatre (Plus) blog, 29 December 2009].


162 / 157: Cyrano nez = Cyrano nose. Cummings notes that Meyerhold's nose is similar in shape and size to that of Cyrano de Bergerac.

Zinaida Raikh & Tania & Kostia

Kostia, Zinaida Raikh, & Tania. Photo from McVay, Esenin: A Life, between pages 182-183.

162 / 158: 1 fanée . . . enters = Zinaida Raikh (1894-1939), Meyerhold's wife and leading actress. Here are some performance photos of Raikh. fanée = "faded" [French]. For more on this couple and their grim fate at the hands of Soviet authorities, see John Freedman's blog entry on Meyerhold's and Raikh's apartment

 

163 / 158: Piscator = Erwin Piscator (1893-1966), German theatrical producer and director. The biglegged boychild is Kostia (Konstantin) Esenin, son of Zinaida Raikh and the poet Sergei Esenin.

164 / 159: "furchtbar" = terrible, frightful [German]. "grosse Bühne" = large stage or theatre [German]. a very lovely little girl = Tania (Tatiana) Esenina. According to a now-defunct page on Meyerhold (Princeton library), "Kostia (Konstantin) and Tania (Tatiana) were Zinaida Raikh's children from her first marriage to the Imaginist poet Sergei Esenin. When Meyerhold married Raikh in 1923, he adopted her children and brought them up as his own." For Esenin, see the note to page 238 / 230.


165 / 160: 1 perfectly beaming negress. = Emma Harris. In the second installment of his autobiography, I Wonder as I Wander, Langston Hughes writes: "She was a 'character.' Everyone in Moscow knew Emma, and Emma knew everybody. Stalin, I am sure, was aware of her presence in the capital. Emma was perhaps sixty, very dark, very talkative and very much alive" (82). Though she had been a dancer and was said to make her living as a translator, Harris was best known for her cooking and her ability to find food: "She had some of the best food in Moscow. Her table was the only one in Russia on which I ever saw an apple pie or, in a private home, a whole roast turkey. Yet she had only an ordinary citizen's ration card. But Emma knew all about black markets" (84). Later Hughes writes: "Emma was a great favorite with the American colony in Moscow--of the right more than the left. The white Southerners especially loved her. Affectionately--and not at all derisively from their viewpoint--they called her 'the Mammy of Moscow.' Often to her they brought their excess food rations for a private feast . . . [F]or her Southern friends Emma would cook corn bread and greens, spoon bread, also barbecued spareribs, if she could find any" (85-86).

 

168 / 163: "Don" = Tikhiy Don (1931), adaptation of the novel And Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov (1905-1984).

172 / 167: chauffebain = a chauffe-bain, or water-heater for the bath.

177 / 172: Michael = London, Jack. Michael, Brother of Jerry. New York, Macmillan, 1917. Michael is a "sociable . . . merry dog" who is kidnapped by a ship's steward. The book is a sequel to Jerry of the Islands (1917).

177 / 172:  enter Durov = Vladimir Grigorievich Durov (1863-1934), circus impresario known as an animal trainer who supposedly used humane methods; a depraved Buffalo Bill—see note to page 430 / 411.

178 / 172: "Durov was a celebrity": the celebrity Durov who toured Europe is most likely Vladimir's brother Anatoly (1864-1916) and/or his son (Vladimir's nephew), Anatoly Anatolyevich Durov (1894-1928).


181 / 176: the Art Theatre = the Moscow Art Theatre, founded in 1897 by Konstantin Stanislavsky (1863-1938) and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko (1858-1943), espoused naturalist "method" acting and more realistic theatrical presentation. In the April 1926 Dial, Cummings reviewed several touring productions of the Moscow Art Theatre
Musical Studio. Cummings singled out for special praise the Studio's musical adaptation of Aristophanes' Lysistrata and a version of Bizet's Carmen, re-titled Carmencita and the Soldier. See "The Theatre I" (Miscellany 141-144). In the next chapter of EIMI, Cummings will attend a performance of Boris Godunov presented by the Musical Studio (now renamed the Stanislavsky Opera Theatre) (191/186). 


181 / 176: mother earth's foremost living proletarian writer: EEC catches a glimpse of Maxim Gorky.

182 / 177: the short story which made Gorky famous = "Chelkash" or "Tchelkash" (1893), "the story of a harbor thief" (SovLit.com).

183 / 178: The Lower Depths: 1902 play in four acts by Maxim Gorky.  "A penetrating study of different types of down-and-outs in an underground nights' lodging" (Dana 74).


184/ 178: L's W = Lenin's Wife. [Compare "L's M" (25, 187).]

185 / 180: il faut absolument visiter! . . . c'est le meilleur du monde! = you must visit it! . . .  it's the best in the world!" [French].


185-186 / 180: no bells.  They don't ring. Eugene Lyons writes: "My first years in Moscow are suffused with the soldiers' singing and the insistent church bells. The bells would start sonorously somewhere in the city and wake answering chimes on all sides in a thousand different keys and measures until the world seemed brimful of living, cavorting notes, chattering, scolding, exulting. Later the ringing was prohibited as a public nuisance and the bells themselves were hauled down and melted for their metals. But somewhere a few timid bells had been overlooked in the sweep, and occasionally they tinkled forlornly in the twilight" (213). See page 191/186.

Morozov House
Morozov house, Prechistenka, 21
189-191 / 184-185: enfin! = "finally!" [French]. Cummings finally visits the State Museum of New Western Art, established in 1918. Steve Dodson notes that the museum "was located in the former Ivan Morozov mansion at Prechistenka, 21 (southwest of the Kremlin)." The Pushkin  State Museum  for the Fine Arts site states: "After Moscow's former Museum of the New Western Art was closed down in 1948 its collection was divided between the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (Moscow) and the Hermitage  Museum (St. Petersburg, then Leningrad). Originally it had been made up of two excellent private collections assembled about the turn of the century by S. I. Shchukin and I. A. Morozov. Thus the Pushkin Museum was enriched with paintings of rare artistic value including masterpieces by Monet, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro, Sisley, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis, Matisse, and Picasso." Link: Images of all art at the Hermitage from The State Museum of New Western Art.

 

190 / 185: Picasso!: See the Picasso page at the Pushkin State Museum (Moscow) and the Picasso page and/or the Picasso index at the Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg).
 
190 / 185: Matisse!: See the Matisse page at the Pushkin State Museum and the Matisse page and/or the Matisse index at the Hermitage.
5 gradually distorted heres = Matisse’s The Dance (1910), second version, now at the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. See also Matisse’s Music (1910), also at the Hermitage. 
 
190 / 185: Van Goghs,especially the billiardtable = The Night Café (1888), formerly in the Morozov collection, sold by the Soviets sometime in the 1930s, and now at the Yale University Art Gallery.
 
190 / 185: I touched(for luck)lightly 1 idol,this by Something’s friend:bonjour--EEC touches a sculpture by his and Meyerhold’s friend Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967). (See also pages 149/146 and 164/159.) Perhaps the sculpture that EEC touched was Musicians (1927), now at the Pushkin State Museum. 

191 / 186: marche pas = "won't go" [French]. 

191 / 186: Stanislavsky's . . . Boris = the Stanislavsky Opera Theatre's production of Boris Godunov (1872), an opera by Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881). Though Cummings says that the second scene takes place "inside [the] church," it is usually set on "the porch of the Cathedral of the Dormition" in Cathedral Square in the Kremlin. Mussorgsky's orchestral introduction to the scene simulates the church bells that are ringing for the coronation of the new (1598) Czar, Boris Godunov. See page 186/180.


191 / 186: the dog is loose = "Dr. Hammer's big untamed wolfhound was chained all day in the corridor leading to the kitchen, and at night was unchained to guard the 'black,' or servants', entrance against intruders" (Lyons 417). María Teresa Gonzalez Mínguez points out that by having Malamuth call the dog a "Poor soviet Cerberus!" Cummings alludes to "Cerberus, the beast that guards the gluttonous in the third circle of Dante's Inferno [Canto VI]." On page 21 "a Herculean nonman" is described as more fearsome than Cerberus.


192 / 187: Mr. Moscovitz himself = "Another of their [EEC's and Slater Brown's] favorites was Mr. Moscowitz, who performed on the cymbaloon, a kind of East European xylophone, at his restaurant. He was a sober-faced Roumanian who took himself very seriously whether he was playing one of Liszt's Hungarian rhapsodies or 'Hello Central, Give Me No-Man's Land. My Daddy's There' " (Kennedy 165).

 

192 / 187: Ezra,the son of Homer = the poet Ezra Pound, whose father's name was Homer. See pages 15, 57 / 56, and 84 / 83.


195 / 190: Find = Cummings receives a letter from his wife Anne Barton Cummings.

 

196 / 190: c'est ici le consulat turque? = the Turkish Consulate is here?


196 / 191:  non . . . c'est par là = no, it's over that way; je crois = I believe [French].


197 / 192: the military tactician = "livid." EEC says that he is a GPU agent ("Phi Beta Kappa").


198 / 192: "in the days of the Czar,a Russian's soul was his passport"--see pages 38-39.


199 / 193: The Last Decisive = also translated as Finally Decisive or The Final Conflict, a 1931 play by Vsevolod Vishnevsky (1900-1951). Dana says that the play is about the "heroic death of Red Fleet sailors defending the Soviet Union against invasion" (92). 


The GPU strikes a counterrevolutionary

199 / 193: our nash-un-al an-them . . . the in-ter-nash-un-al = "The International," song "written by a transport worker after the Paris Commune was crushed by the French government" and adopted by the Soviet Union as its first national anthem. The title of the play refers to the song's refrain, which urges workers to stick together in "la lutte finale" [the final struggle]. In Charles H. Kerr's English translation: " 'Tis the final conflict / Let each stand in his place / The International Union / Shall be the human race."

201 / 195: rogat = "he asks" [Latin]. A rogatio is a proposal, referendum, bill, or request.

202 / 197: Trying! [See also 199/193: An audience painfully,not to mention strainfully,Trying] --Cummings may be remembering John Keats' letter of 17-27 September, 1819 to his brother George and his wife Georgiana: "Dilke [is] a Man who cannot feel he has a personal identity unless he has made up his Mind about everything. The only means of strengthening one's intellect is to make up one's mind about nothing -- to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts. Not a select party. The genus is not scarce in population. All the stubborn arguers you meet with are of the same brood--They never begin upon a subject they have not preresolved on. They want to hammer their nail into you, and if you turn the point, still they think you wrong. Dilke will never come at a truth as long as he lives, because he is always trying at it. He is a Godwin-methodist" (303). In addition, the letters "GPU" when written cursively in the Cyrillic alphabet bear an uncanny resemblance to the English word "try." [At left: a poster depicting the GPU (Г П У) striking a counter-revolutionary (circa 1930). At the end of his history guide, “Political Violence and Stalin’s Vision of Socialism 1918-1938,” Nicholas Richardson notes that this poster denounces a "counter-revolutionary saboteur (Контрреволюцонер вредитель)" who attacks the state with "predatory eyes that sparkle (Сверкает хищный глаз)." ]

204 / 198: Old Man River = Song composed by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, from the 1927 musical Show Boat. Everybody Loves My Baby = Song from 1924 by Spencer Williams (music) and Jack Palmer (lyrics). Nearer My God [to Thee] = 19th century Christian hymn with words by Sarah Flower Adams and many different musical settings.


205 / 199: 1 amazingly;black,omen!) . . . mr)cricket: EEC refers to Charles Dickens' third Christmas story, The Cricket on the Hearth (1845). In the story, the tea-kettle and the cricket sing together. Mrs. Peerybingle comments to her husband: "And it's sure to bring us good fortune, John! It always has done so. To have a Cricket on the Hearth, is the luckiest thing in all the world!"


206 / 200: Lack Dungeon's proles = Jack London's child, i.e., Joan London. The Latin word proles means "offspring, progeny, child." The lowest class in ancient Rome was called the proletarii because their only possession was their children. 

206 / 200: vandinefully = "like Van Dine," a reference to the mystery writer S. S. Van Dine, who, under his real name, Willard Huntington Wright, had written Modern Painting (1915), a book much-cherished and well-annotated by the young Cummings. Cummings satirizes Van Dine's mystery novels in the poem "murderfully in midmost o.c.an" (CP 335). 

("the" . . . ("engineers have shaggy") . . . ("ears")misquote: Malamuth misquotes a soldier's song from WWI:

 

The engineers have hairy ears,

They piss without their britches,

They bang their cocks against the rocks,

            Those hardy sons of bitches

 

This song is derived from an older tune called "The Mountaineers," whose first verse reads:

 

The mountaineers have hairy ears,

They piss through leather britches,

They knock their cocks on mountain rocks,

                        Those scraggy sons of bitches                       (Randolph 510)


Malamuth's song about the engineers surely refers to the different problems that the two American engineers in this chapter have in marrying foreign women, but he also may be referring to the GPU agents in military uniforms (199/193), who carry real rather than figurative "pis-" . . . "stolsintheirbreeches" (206/200). It is likely also that discovering GPU agents is the object of Joan London's "detective work."


207 / 201: 1 very husbandful gentlemenprefer = "Darksmoothlyestishful" (203-206/197-200). Cummings refers to the title of Anita Loos' bestselling comic novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1925).

207 / 201: "a submarine . . . lost" = "The submarine minelayer RABOCHIY sank on 22 May 1931 in the Gulf of Finland after a collision with the submarine KRASSNOARMEYETS. Two years later the RABOCHIY was raised by the rescue ship COMMUNA and sold for scrap" (Polmar 89-90). According to a May 27, 1931 article in the New York Times, the sinking was reported in a brief dispatch only on May 26. The Times article states: "No detailed official report of the catastrophe seems to have been made by the Russian Government."


209 / 203: "il est fier"(and he is)dit K = "he is proud"(and he is)said K. le citoyen russe vous salut! = the Russian citizen salutes you! café! . . . merveilleux! = coffee! . . . marvelous! Merci. C'est entendu = Thanks. It's understood [French].


210 / 203: Bread = a play by Vladimir Kirshon (1902-1938). Dana says that it is about "efforts to encourage agriculture and to prevent kulaks [prosperous landed peasants] from hoarding wheat" (78).


213 / 206: returned during nep = "the New Economic Policy of socialist-capitalist compromise introduced by Lenin in 1921" (Lyons 81). The policy was scrapped by Stalin in favor of mass industrialization, forced collectivization, and five year plans.


213 / 207: a powerful pair of eyes = the character known as “eyes.” She is Lyubov Davydovna Faynberg (or Feinberg) (1908-1983). Her husband  is Valentin O.
Stenich. (1898-1938) (birth name Smetanich), a poet who translated not only Cummings but also the first two books of Dos Passos' USA trilogy as well as parts of James Joyce's Ulysses. See note to pages 262-263 / 254.

213 / 207: heat murdered perioolok = "the magnificent Hammer place [was] at Petrovsky Pereulok 8, across the street from the squat, carrot-red Korsh theater" (Lyons 296). See page 139 / 136. 

 
214 / 208: muguet = lily of the valley. The verb mugueter can mean "to flirt" or "to philander." "personne!" = "no one!" [French].

216 / 209-210: speaks / --in numbers!(for the numbers came. = parody of Alexander Pope's lines about his poetic beginnings: "Why did I write? what sin to me unknown / Dipped me in ink, my parents', or my own? / As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame, / I lisped in numbers, for the numbers came"  ("Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot," lines 125-28). The word "numbers" here refers to the syllable counts and meters of lines of verse.


217 / 210: one-legged people = As Virgil tells Cummings on page 40, reporter Walter Duranty had a wooden leg. (See also page 132 / 130, where EEC says of Charles Malamuth that "he,oddly enough,is the only 2legged Englishspeaking correspondent who can read a Russian newspaper in the original.")

 

217 / 211: favorite yellow journal = The New York Evening Journal, a Hearst paper that was Cummings' favorite because it carried the comic strip Krazy Kat. See page 48/49.


220 / 213: "I had one here" Chinesey/Hammer refers to his first wife, Olga, whom he met when she was a performer of gypsy songs.

…al-lo!monsieur Kem-min-kz?ahbonjour!dites: . . . "Hello! Monsieur Kem-min-kz? Ahbonjour! Say: would you like to come to our place tomorrow evening for dinner? Yes. Right, my husband has returned. What? Around seven o'clock. Yes. OK--till tomorrow . . ."


220 / 213: eheu fu(labuntur anni(rugis et instanti . . = Horace, Odes, II.14:

 

            Eheu fugaces, Postume, Postume,

            labuntur anni nec pietas moram

               rugis et instanti senectae

                  adferet indomitaeque morti:

 

"Ah, Postumus, Postumus, how fleeting / the swift years--prayer cannot delay / the furrows of imminent old-age / nor hold off unconquerable death." (Cf. page 21, as well as CP 234 and CP 492.)

 

221 / 214: Pickwick = perhaps conductor and violinist Emil Cooper, also known as Emil Kuper (1877-1960).

 

221 / 214: & he did it at last. . .with a)pistol = A letter from Anne tells Cummings that Ralph Barton, Anne's first husband and a talented commercial artist and caricaturist, had killed himself "in his penthouse apartment" in New York on May 19, 1931 (cf. Updike 135). Kennedy writes: "Barton had left a note which mentioned personal problems, including fears for his mental health and money worries. He had by now gone through four divorces. Since he had left no will, it was necessary for Anne, as the mother of his child, to return to the United States to claim any insurance for Diana and to oversee the sale of his furnishings and personal effects" (313). Much of Barton's suicide note, titled "Obit," is reproduced in John Updike's essay on Barton, "A Case of Melancholy." For examples of Barton's art, see his Theatre Curtain (1922), done for Balieff's Chauve-Souris troupe; and "The Custodians of the Keystone," the frontispiece for Gilbert Seldes' The Seven Lively Arts (1924); and a melancholy self-portrait (circa 1925). 

 

221 / 214: us all jammed in his Voisin --In 1929 Cummings, Anne, her daughter Diana, Ralph Barton, and his fourth wife, the composer Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983), traveled to the south of France "in a chauffeur-driven Citroën . . . to Toulon, where Barton owned a villa, and then after a few days returning to Paris through Lyons. The whole trip was marked by too much drinking and punctuated by troubles and quarrels. Barton was teetering on the brink of divorce from Germaine, who split from him from time to time . . . . Barton was also so unstable in psyche that Cummings recommended that he seek help from Dr. Wittels" (Kennedy 304-305).


222 / 214-15: Itless hangs heavy and limp = an old-fashioned box camera with a cloth hood. The "Micro(before itless)scopic . . . tovarich" crouching in front is a photographer and landscape painter. Seeing the camera reminds EEC that he must have his internal passport photos taken in order to travel to Odessa. However, he also realizes that he might not have enough money to get photographed, so he notes the location for future reference. This "microscopic landscape-tovarich" (234/226) takes EEC's Russian identity passport photographs on pages 234-235 / 226-228.

222 / 215: blowing my brains out--EEC contemplated killing himself after the disastrous breakup of his first marriage with Elaine Orr. From July to December of 1924, he carried a pistol around, planning to kill himself and/or Elaine, and/or her lover Frank McDermott (see Kennedy 254-265).

 
228 / 221: the poet = Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), who, having returned to Moscow the day before, departed with three other writers on May 28, 1931 to visit the new industrial sites of Chelyabinsk, Kuznetsk, and Magnitogorsk. However, Pasternak did not complete what was to be a three-week tour. After giving three poetry readings in Chelyabinsk, he returned to Moscow on June 7. Christopher Barnes' biography records Pasternak's reactions to the trip:

Ordinary human stupidity nowhere emerges in such herd-like standardisation as in the setting of this trip. It was worth coming even for this. . . . Behind everything that repelled me with its vacuity and vulgarity there was nothing ennobling or illuminating other than organised mediocrity. (50)


The Turk's hurrahboys to the right of him echoes Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade":  "Cannon to right of them, / Cannon to left of them, / Cannon in front of them / Volley'd and thunder'd; / Storm'd at with shot and shell, / Boldly they rode and well, / Into the jaws of Death, / Into the mouth of Hell / Rode the six hundred." [Thanks to Jacques Demarcq for the bulk of this note.]

230 / 222: Sovtorg Flot = "Soviet Commercial Fleet," a shipping company in the Soviet Union that sometimes arranged tours. Its offices were on Tverskaya.

233 / 225: Thurston = Howard Thurston (1869-1936), American magician, author of My Life of Magic (1929), famous for his card tricks and elaborate props.


234-235 / 226-228: vier Stück.  Drei roubles = "four prints.  Three rubles." fortfahren = "depart" or "continue, go on." vier . . . Minuten,oder fünf = "four minutes,or five." I shall spaziergehen . . . and hierkommen . . . "bitte" = "I shall go for a walk . . . and come back . . . 'please'." fertig! = "ready!" gut für Passeport. Nicht gut für Fräulein = "good for a passport. Not good for women" [German].

236 / 229: 1st beyond miracle 34 full = The first #34 tram that appears is full. See page 208 / 202 and page 448 / 428.

238 / 230: a stranger = "a granddaughter of Tolstoy" (231) = Sofia Tolstaya (1900-1957). She comes to dinner on pages 263 / 254-255.

 

238 / 230: someone . . . killed himself = poet Sergei Esenin (1895-1925), who married his fifth wife Sofia Tolstaya early in 1925. On December 28, 1925, Esenin hung himself "in the icon corner" of a hotel room, but not before writing a suicide note/poem in his own blood. [Did Cummings know that Zinaida Raikh's children were from her marriage to Esenin? (See notes to pages 162-164 / 157-159.)]  See also the Books and Writers Esenin page.

 

At right: a possibly retouched photo of Esenin and Sofia Tolstaya, October, 1925. (Detail of larger photo from Gordon McVay's Esenin: A Life, between pages 182-183.) 
Link: more  Esenin  photos.

238 / 231: Soviet Russia's foremost prosewriter = Valentin Kataev (1897-1986). Charles Malamuth "miraculously is translating" Kataev's novel, Time, Forward! (1932). Malamuth also translated Kataev's novel A White Sail Gleam (1936) as Peace Is Where the Tempests Blow (Farrar & Rinehart, 1937). 

Sergei Esenin & Sofia Tolstaya


Anne Barton

241 / 234: Rose Marie = 1924 operetta with music by Rudolf Friml and Herbert Stothart, libretto by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II. Filmed in 1928, 1936.

 

242 / 235: pointing.  To a photograph = EEC shows Nat a photo of who married him, thinking to himself that the photo was taken in Ralph Barton's Paris house at 46 Rue Nicolo. (For photos of Barton's swank domicile, see Kellner 174-175. For Ralph Barton's suicide, see the notes to pages 221-222 / 214-215.) Cummings' description of the photograph makes it clear that the photo of Anne at left (reproduced in Kennedy 287) is not the one taken by "Malkine's camera" (243/236). Cummings and Anne probably met Surrealist painter and photographer Georges Malkine (1898-1970) on their honeymoon trip to Paris in the spring of 1929. Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno reports that in spring 1933 Cummings and Marion Morehouse entertained Malkine and his wife while living in Paris (370). 

 

246 / 238: Kolkhoz = a collective farm.

248-251 / 240-243: Lenin's tomb is shaped like a squat pyramid: the spacing of EEC's lines echoes that shape, while the long lines on the page echo the long line of shuffling people outside the structure. See the architectural plan of the Lenin Mausoleum and a photographic "History of Lenin’s Mausoleum."



256 / 248: (& was that good enough?did it please her? When Eugene Lyons and family left Moscow at the end of January, 1934, the servant whom Cummings calls "ogress" said goodbye: "Great tears rolled down Shura's chapped cheeks as I shook her calloused hand. Timidly she had given me a parting gift: a large lacquered Palekh box with the picture of a Ukrainian peasant girl on the cover. I remember wondering through all the excitement how such a thing could have come to her, since it could be bought only at Torgsin for valuta; two years later, reading E. E. Cummings' book on Russia, I learned in its pages that he had presented it to her" (609).

 

259 / 251: How does that fellow Emerson put it --Malamuth refers to Emerson's advice against travelling in "Self-Reliance": "Travelling is a fool's paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from" (288).

259 / 251: The tragedy is and always will be that most people are unable to express themselves: Malamuth again refers to Emerson, this time from the essay "The Poet." After asserting that "by truth and by his art" the poet "will draw all men sooner or later," Emerson writes: "For all men live by truth, and stand in need of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in politics, in labor, in games, we study to utter our painful secret. The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression. Notwithstanding this necessity to be published, adequate expression is rare" (327).

262-263 / 254: Softly unintrudes eyes-nonman = EEC gives the woman called "eyes" [Lyubov Davydovna Faynberg (or Feinberg) (1908-1983)] an American cigarette tin, scratching an autograph in it with "a very old jackknife." "Vraiment" = Really.
"drôle homme . . . comme mon mari" = funny man . . . like my husband [French]. When "eyes" is introduced on pages 213-215 / 207-209, we learn that her husband translated EEC and is "now in exile for ten years" (214 / 207). Jacques Demarcq identifies her husband as "Valentin O. Stenich (1898-1938) (birth name Smetanich), a poet once lauded by Alexander Blok. Later he translated (among others) John Dos Passos (Manhattan Transfer [1930], The 42nd  Parallel [1931], 1919, [1932]) and James Joyce (Ulysses [selections published in 1934-35]). Internal exile, or banishment from Moscow, preceded his arrest in 1937. He was shot the following year." Steve Dodson writes: "After Stenich's death 'eyes' married the screenwriter and director Manuel Vladimirovich Bolshintsov (1902-1954). She was a translator and a friend of Anna Akhmatova, who often stayed with her when visiting Moscow." For more on this couple, see Dodson’s blog entry "Stenich." For more on Stenich, see Dos Passos' The Best Times (176-177).

263 / 254-255: and tall = Sofia Tolstaya comes to dinner. (See 238 / 230-231.)


263 / 255: When they made us lie down--Cummings remembers the phrase "when they made us lie down" from page 141/138: "but I was thinking of the time they put a revolver to us and made us lie down for them." See also page 157/152.


263 / 255: Assyrian shoots Harem and departing. Charles Malamuth, Joan London, and Cummings take parting photos of each other. At right: the Assyrian's photo of Joan London and EEC in "sunsmotheredness." (Note Malamuth's shadow.) [Photo courtesy of Clarice Stasz and The Jack London Online Collection.]  http://london.sonoma.edu/Images/97.html
264 / 256: The Other Side of the River = ? gentle = ?

271 / 263: Hotel Continental? on Karl Marx Street (cf. 276 / 268). Steve Dodson notes that "this street is now Arkhitektora Horodetskoho, and the site of the hotel is now occupied by the Kiev Conservatory."

Joan London & E. E. Cummings


272 / 264: Fayal = an island in the Azores. Cummings would have visited there in 1921 when he and John Dos Passos sailed for Lisbon aboard an old freighter called the Mormugão. See page 378/363.

273 / 265: The churches are drowning with stars: Many churches in Kiev have golden stars painted on the outside of their blue domes. See, for example, the Cathedral of St. Volodymyr.

276 / 268: "Hier?" . . . "wirklich." = "Here?" . . . "really" [German].

277 / 269: a newslesspaper called Truth = Pravda, which means "truth." See http://english.pravda.ru/. Highme Wokker = Jaime Walker = Johnny Walker? Or Hymie Worker?

277 / 269 Später = later. Geld zahlen = counting money [German].

279 / 271: Tad's immortal words = "TAD" or Thomas A. Dorgan (1877-1929), a cartoonist who is credited with inventing or popularizing an incredible number of slang terms and popular expressions, including "dumbbell," "for crying out loud," and "hard-boiled."


280 / 272: gnädige = gracious, kind. gnädige Frau = Madam [German]. 


281 / 273: a certain monastery of note = the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra Monastery.


283 / 274: Cheehoo = Jehu = "A fast or furious driver [In allusion to 2 Kings ix. 20 'the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he driveth furiously']" (OED). Note correctly spelled Jehu on page 283 / 275. [Note from Steve Dodson]


285 / 276: "mon camarade--il dit:pas de beelyet" = my comrade--he said: no ticket [French]. "Kommen Sie" = You come [German]. "wo" = where? [German]. Sie could have felled ich = You could have felled I. 

286 / 277: husteron prot = hysteron proteron = "the latter [put as] the former" [Greek]. A rhetorical term meaning "syntax or sense out of normal logical or temporal order" (Lanham 58), a stylistic device frequently employed by Cummings in EIMI and elsewhere.

288 / 280: "Sprechen Sie Deutsch?" = "Do you speak German?" "Wenig,sehr wenigSprechen Sie vielleicht . . ." = Little, very little. Do you perhaps speak French or English?" [German]

 

289 / 281: "Puppschen" = dolls, puppets [German]. See pages 231-232 / 224.


290 / 281: Muriel Draper = "wife of Paul Draper the pianist, and mother of Paul Draper, Jr., who was to become a popular American dancer in the 1930's" (Kennedy 273). Muriel Draper and Cummings were lovers for a brief time after his break-up with Elaine. They remained friends until EIMI appeared, when Muriel, along with other left-leaning friends, broke with Cummings (Kennedy 360-361).

 

291 / 282: "Frühstuck" = Breakfast [German].

292 / 283: "ich glaube" = I believe [German]. "aber ich bin amerikanisch" = however I am American [German].

293 / 284: shtoh?qu'est-ce que?--"Was?" = "What?" in Russian, French, and German. "Schnell!" = Quickly! "nein" = no [German].


294 / 284: "bleiben Sie ruhig" = remain calm [German].

 

297 / 288: "und . . . es ist Blau!" = and . . . it is blue! [German]. C notes that the Black Sea is . . . blue. 

 
298 / 288-89: Ritzy . . . Hotel London = the Londonskaya Hotel.

298 / 289: "endtendu?" = understood? [French].


298 / 289: dooble-vay-say mangifique and salle de bains . . . = "magnificent WC ["water-closet", i.e, toilet] and a supreme bathroom--also a bidet.  What an idea: a bidet in hell." [Cummings combines French and English in this passage.]

 

299 / 290: "malade" = sick [French]. 1st glimpse of hole-in-forehead = Cummings first sees this character, also called "censor," on page 24. EEC sees him again at god's party (214 / 207).
proud-erect = the headwaiter. Note that Joan London's term for the non-volunteering Russian scientist is "proud-erect" (173 / 168). See also the note to page 442/422.

 

300 / 291: Beacon Hill and Veritas = The statehouse of Massachusetts is on Beacon Hill in Boston. "Veritas" ["Truth" in Latin] is the motto of Harvard University. Even though he is from New Haven, Connecticut, the Noo Inglundur (also called "defunct") has an accent that is much more reminiscent of demotic New York than of New England. Hence Cummings' ironic comments about Minsky's, a troupe based at Cummings' favorite burlesque house, the National Winter Garden in New York.

 

301 / 292: "US WUN YANG TOO UNUDUH" = "as one Yank to another."

 

303 / 294: Bleiben) = "remaining" [German] = An "unmoving" GPU agent. See pages 293-294 / 284-285.

 

305 / 295: all the way from Paris telegram EEC tells us how he answered the telegram at the end of this chapter. The telegram is at the Houghton Library at Harvard University [MS Am 1892: Letters to E. E. Cummings (331) Folder 22]. It reads:

 

[June 3, 1931]

                                                                        EDWARD CUMMINGS CARE

                                                                        INTOURIST ODESSA RUSSIA

 

SAILING AMERICA TODAY   OPERATION AND SETTLE RALPH'S AFFAIRS  DON'T  HURRY  LOVE  =  ANNE

 

(No doubt Anne wrote "DON'T WORRY," but the French telegram operator probably misread her penmanship.)
 

305 / 295: 1 horrorimage = one of the Russian identity passport photographs taken on pages 234-235 / 227-228.

 
306 / 296: salle à manger = dining room [French].

307 / 296-97: "perdu" = lost, done for.  "pour me donner du courage, monsieur" = to give me courage, sir. "ce soir" = this evening [French].


308 / 298: "J'étais fou:c'est tout" = I was crazy: that's all. "et c'est seulement Ça que je demande--Travailler!" = and that's all I ask--to Work!' "et je sais Travailler,moi!" = and, me, I know how to Work! "Il me FAUT travailler!" = I NEED to Work!" [French]

 

309 / 298: immortal Potemkin stairs = steps featured in the famous massacre scene in Sergei Eisenstein's film The Battleship Potemkin (1925). See page 331 / 320.

313 / 302: Booth Tarkington (1869-1946), American novelist, author of The Magnificent Ambersons (1918) and Alice Adams (1921).

316 / 305: "est-ce que Monsieur parle français?" = Does the gentleman speak French? "non:s'il vous plait;ici" = no: please; here. ohree vawmuh dum = Au revoir, madame [French].

317 / 306: "c'est ça qu'il faut"(she:"Mais c'est tout détruit!détruit!") = "that's what is necessary"(she:"But it's all destroyed!destoyed!") [French].

318 / 307: Morhyeh / Moryeh = "sea" [Russian]. (See page 347 / 334.)

321 /310: merci . . . déjeuner = thanks . . . lunch. soi-disant jardin = so-called garden. "ob,so,loo,mon,NAW" = absolument NON = absolutely NOT [French].


322 / 311: ell nuh foe paw shooshay . . . = Il ne faut pas cherchez l'âme russe par cette musique--chez les orchestres militaires jouer par example seule des sons rien [?] sans education. Prenez le musique ici dans le shawdan c'est bon, pas triste, gai. = It's not correct to look for the Russian soul in this music--in these military bands play for example only nothing sounds [?], without education. Take the music here in the garden--it's good, not sad, gay.

(shrugging)"sais pas. .  .  = "I don't know. I don't understand the system here. Sad!"

poor quaw voo deet . . . = Pourquoi vous dites triste? Tout est triste. Oui, mais c'est pas le faut de l'âme russe--russe l'âme n'est pas triste. = Why do you say "sad"? Everything is sad. Yes, but it's not the fault of the Russian soul. The Russian soul is not sad.

poo-tet = Peut être. Et en tout cas il est un grand plaisir de rencontrer deux hommes intelligents = Perhaps. And in any case, it is a great pleasure to meet two intelligent men [French].


322 / 311: the shawdan = the "jardin," or the "summer garden" of the Londonskaya Hotel.

baw nes paw = Bon, n'est-ce pas? -- Good, no? [French]
undolce styl nuovo = not-sweet new style [Italian and English]. Cummings refers to the Italian term dolce stil novo, name given for the new poetic style pioneered by Dante and his contemporaries. See Dante's Purgatorio, Canto 24.
La luxe = Luxury. "excusez-moi,mon ami . . . = "Excuse me, friend. I need to return to our hotel: I have a very important response to write . . . good night.  See you tomorrow!" [French].

323 / 312: Don't Operate . . . Unless . . . Reason = text of Cummings' telegram to Anne Barton, asking her not to have an abortion unless medically necessary. See Kennedy 308-309, 313. See pages 445-447 / 425-427. 

e for someone's name . . . e for someone's other name --No doubt the two names are "Edward Estlin." a for a name = Anne [Barton Cummings]. EEC's backwards spelling of the word "Operate" may refer to Sofia Tolstaya's telling him that "You can . . . not turn the wheels of history backward" (238 / 231, 263-264 / 254-255).


323 / 312: t for two and two for tea = lyrics from "Tea for Two," a song from the 1925 musical No, No, Nanette with music by Vincent Youmans and lyrics by Irving Caesar. Most of the song concerns the two lovers: "Just me for you / And you for me – alone." However, at the end the lovers contemplate starting a family: "Day will break and I'll wake / And start to bake a sugar cake / For you to take for all the boys to see / We'll raise a family / A boy for you / And a girl for me / Can't you see how happy we would be."

perhaps perfection--Cummings may be remembering his father’s sermon on childhood, in which the Reverend Cummings preaches that every child should be treated as a potential savior of humanity and hopes that "Every father and every mother may be inspired with the lofty purpose of giving to this new life the opportunities for development which shall make the divinity within the child grow to perfection" (6). 

O for O civilization may also refer to his father's sermon, which asserts that "all civilization may properly be called child civilization" (3) because "it is to the babes and sucklings that humanity is indebted for almost everything that makes life worth living.  It is to infancy—prolonged and helpless infancy—that humanity is most indebted for all the institutions and all the ideals that distinguish human beings from brutes, and civilized men and women from brutal savages" (4).
 

323 / 312: et quantumst hominum Venustiorum = literally, "and however many there are of charming men"--line two of Catullus' poem #3, lamenting the death of his mistress' pet sparrow:  Etymologically, the word "venustus" means "characterized by Venus"--hence James Michie's translation of men "moved / By beauty":

Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque,

et quantumst hominum venustiorum!

passer mortuus est meae puellae,

passer, deliciae meae puellae,

O Venus and you, Cupids, shed

A tear, and all in man that's moved

By beauty, mourn. Her sparrow's dead,

My darling's darling, whom she loved

(trans. James Michie)

Mourn, ye Graces and Loves,
and all you whom the Graces love.
My lady's sparrow is dead,
the sparrow my lady's pet,
(trans. Harry Walker)


(For another translation, see “Carmen 3” at Rudy Negenborn’s Gaius Valerius Catullus site. Cummings refers again to this poem on page 447 / 426. He also quotes the first two lines of the poem in the six nonlectures, page 50.)

326 / 315: a distinguished young woman = Sofia Tolstaya. See pages 263 / 254-255.


326 / 315: "meaning which?" as Joe Gould says--Cummings refers to Joe Gould, noted Greenwich Village street person and the subject of EEC's poem, "little joe gould has lost his teeth and doesn't know where" (CP 410).


328 / 317: Arcadia = a beach south of Odessa.

329 / 318: Julia Sanderson (1888-1975) = American actress from Springfield, Massachusetts, who first became famous playing Eileen Cavanaugh in the 1910 Broadway production of the hit musical The Arcadians. Cummings quotes verses from three separate songs (with words by Arthur Wimperis and music by Lionel Monckton) in quick succession:

a) eightyinthe shade-theysay-Just FAN-cy = from a song in which Jack is trying to ask Eileen to marry him, but can only say: “Eighty in the shade, they say.” To which she responds: “Just fancy!”
b) harkthe pipesof Panare calling = verse from the song "The Pipes of Pan Are Calling" (1909), sung at the beginning of the play by the Arcadian nymph Sombra. 
c) a Short-life and a G-A-Y;one = from a refrain sung by Peter Doody, a jockey who has never won a race. He sings of how he always looks on the bright side: his motto is: “Cheer up, Cully, you’ll soon be dead! / A short life and a gay one!” Jacques Demarcq points out that this song also contains several verses in Franglais like “My accent is / A tout à fait Français one,” which is quite in keeping with Cummings’ rendering of accents as well as his mixing of French and English in the Odessa scenes of the book. [Thanks to Jacques Demarcq for much of the information in this note.]


330 / 319: flowers-in-the-crannied lassies: a reference to Alfred, Lord Tennyson's short poem: "Flower in the crannied wall, / I pluck you out of the crannies, / I hold you here, root and all, in my hand, / Little flower—but if I could understand / What you are, root and all, and all in all, / I should know what God and man is" (1869).


331 / 319: Streichholz!yah! = match! I! [German; Russian]. danke = thanks [German].


331 / 320: Down.  dowN. EEC remembers the famous scene in Sergei Eisenstein's film The Battleship Potemkin (1925). As the Czar's troops massacre civilians on the Odessa steps, a dying woman kicks her baby carriage down the steps.


332 / 321: fascism equals no "class struggle":cooperation of "worker" and "capitalist"; "Mussolini certainly is a great politician"

"nous" = "we" the Italians "need a strong man because" whisper "there were disturbances"

dwarfish "comme" . . . "ça" = like that.

"je comprend[s]" = I understand.

"rien,eh?" = "nothing, eh?" "yes" he shrugs "they are used to it."


334 / 322: besser als ich = better than I. Zimmer = room. zehn Minuten = ten minutes. a "Herr" = a gentleman [German].


337 / 324: the Polish general = Lucjan Żeligowski (1865-1947) commander of the 4th Polish Rifle Division who, with the help of Greek and French troops, secured Odessa against the Red Army from December 1918 to May 1919.


338 / 326: buzzjoo mushyoo = Bonjour, Monsieur [French].

Munchausen = Karl Friedrich von Münchhausen (1720-1797), a German baron who served in the Russian military. After returning to Germany, he is said to have told some tall tales about his time in Russia. These tales were further embellished and published in 1781. Many authors later retold and translated the tales, expanding and transforming them. Cummings refers to Noo's tall tales at the beginning of the chapter.

 

339 / 327: to death rededicated = Noo has gone back to reading his detective novels after telling Cummings the "bad noos!"


340 / 328: Voo zate moan ami . . . = "Vous êtes mon ami. . . . Je fais tout pour vous" = You are my friend. . . I do everything for you."

 

341 / 328: well,mushyoo--com on saw vaw? = Well, Monsieur, comment ça va?" = Well, Monsieur, how's it going? maymush yoo!ellnuh foepaw . . . = Mais, Monsieur! il ne faut pas être comme ça; tout va bien, comprennez? = But Monsieur, don't be like that; everything's fine, understand? Maw shuh Say! = Moi, je sais! = Me, I know! . . . kuh pon say voo . . . = Que pensez-vous d'un changement du scène? = What do you think of a change of scenery? "day"(yaw)"son"(ning)"day" = "dé"(yaw)"scen"(ning)"dez" = "get(yawning)down" [from the tram].

 

342 / 329: "baw poor luh sontay" = Bon pour le santé = Good for health.

 

343 / 330: "mushyoo!voo voolay nawjay . . ." = Monsieur, vous voulez nagez? Bon, bon pour le santé! Très bon pour vous! Non? c'est dommage Monsieur. Alors, vous gardez nos habits, n'est-ce pas? Oui?--merci, merci beaucoup" = Monsieur, do you want to swim? Good, good for health! Very good for you! Well, you can guard our clothes, no? Thanks, thanks a lot.

 

343 / 331: MONJAY! = Mangez! = Eat!


344 / 331: "salute!" = cheers! [Italian]. "Monjay!--seel voo Play MonJay!" = Mangez!--s'il vous plait, Mangez!" = Eat!--if you please Eat!"  "merci" = thank you.

344 / 332: "ma maison serait la votre" = my house would be yours. "eh bien:permettez moi--" = good: then allow me--. "écoutez, monsieur" = listen, sir.

345 / 332-333: "Entrez" = Enter! "Un brave homme" = An honest, worthy man. "maintenant je vais à ma chambre,entendre la musique" = now I'm going to my room, to listen to music.

348 / 335: Et"je suis au" . . . "bout de mes" = And"I am at the" . . . "end of my" MONJAY! = "Mangez!" = Eat! BOOVAY! = "Buvez!" = Drink! "ONGKORE!" = Encore! = Again! 


349 / 335: REEAY = Riez = Laugh.


350 / 337: it's français as well as russe = it's French as well as Russian. mais([re]'garder moi ça) = but(I see that). (allons vite) = let's go quickly. demoiselles = young ladies. moi j'ai no mallet = me I have no mallet. réponse de Moscou = response from Moscow. paraît qu'aujourdui's a national holiday = it appears that today's a national holiday.

351 / 338:  about how An Old Professor . . . = Despite being called Morale, the movie that Cummings and stunned see is probably The Blue Angel (1930, 1931), directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Emil Jannings and Marlene Dietrich.

351 / 338: Selah = Hebrew word of uncertain meaning that appears at the end of some psalms in the Bible.
Small's Paradise = name of a nightclub in Harlem. According to the Big Onion Guide to New York City, "Although the building is empty now, at 2294 H Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard, on the southwest corner of 135th Street, was Ed Small's Paradise, one of Harlem's most popular jazz clubs and restaurants from the 1920s to the 1940s. Those who could afford the prices at the 'Hottest Spot in Harlem' would be treated to music, elaborate floor shows, and singing waiters. The small dance floor at Small's Paradise got so crowded that each patron was said to have a dime's worth of floor space for dancing. .  . . In the 1960s, basketball star Wilt Chamberlain reopened the restaurant as Big Wilt's Small's Paradise." 

 

355 / 341: the Last? = Is this my last day in Russia? a certain Florentine's enormous dream = Dante's Inferno.


356 / 341: Ingersoll . . . made the socalled dollar as it were famous: The Ingersoll Watch Company sold durable watches for a dollar apiece. Their advertising slogan was "The Watch that Made the Dollar Famous."


358 / 343: "non" . . . "mais je crois que tout va bien enfin" = "no" . . . "but I believe that everything will work out well in the end"

358 / 344: "je Vais --TRAVAILLER!" = i am Going to WORK!

 

363 / 348: "(8).  Via recently not unglimpsed--this obscure passage seems to mean that Noo's spree will be financed by the proceeds from selling Cummings' broken watch ("timetoy") for some exorbitant sum to one of the ship's officers. EEC's watch stopped running on page 348 / 335: "time stops." The high price of even a second-hand watch is discussed on pages 355-356 / 341-342.


364 / 350: shwoddy veev = joie de vivre = joy of life [French].

 

370 / 355: FrANZ MERing = Franz Mehring (1846-1919), "who was associated with Rosa Luxembourg and who wrote a biography of Karl Marx" (Farley 101).

 
Hammer pencil poster
372 / 357: "pourquoi?" je demande . . . "c'est comme ça,eh?" . . . "nous sommes cinq" = "why?" I ask . . . "so that’s how it is, eh?" . . . "there are five of us [in our cabin]" [French].

378 / 363: Mormugão = In March 1921, Cummings and John Dos Passos sailed from New Bedford for Lisbon aboard an old freighter called the Mormugão. Kennedy says the crossing took three weeks (226).

379 / 364: concessionaire de crayons = one with a pencil concession = Chinesey = Armand Hammer, who, among his other businesses, ran a pencil factory in Russia. [Photo of poster from EnglishRussia.com]


382 / 366: I.W.W. = Industrial Workers of the World, an international union founded in the United States in 1905. In 1917, the union opposed the entry of the USA into World War I. It remained relatively powerful in maritime transport until 1930.

382 / 366: cheeroots = a typo for cheroots, "a cigar having open, untapered ends."


383 / 368: ore-dove = hors d'oeuvres.


385 / 378: CHERUP Mark II SHIP LOG = an instrument attached to the taffrail of the ship and connected to a rotor dragged behind the ship. By measuring the revolutions of the rotor, this instrument recorded the distance travelled and thus the ship's speed. The actual brand name of this recorder (or "log") was "CHERUB." Cummings may have misread the name on the dial, or he may have
deliberately altered the "B" to a "P" to create a pun: "CHEER UP." Or perhaps the lower circle of the "B" was worn away. EEC may also be referring to his childhood nickname "Chub," which, as Richard S. Kennedy tells us, was "derived from 'cherub,' the wallpaper pattern in the room he had occupied from childhood" (Dreams 100). 

 


390 / 374: venite,adoremus = come, let us adore [Latin], from the hymn "Adeste Fidelis" (O come, all ye faithful), written in 1742 by John Francis Wade (1711-1786).

392 / 375: pour ainsi dire = so to speak [French].

395 / 378: Eddie(bouncing eyefully)Cantoirsh--the dude's friend looks like Eddie Cantor (1892-1964), a comedian, actor, singer, and dancer who debuted on Broadway with the Ziegfeld Follies in 1917. In the 1930s much of his career was in radio and movies. He was known for his comically exaggerated eye rolling.

396 / 379: par ici,Ici,ICI! = this way, Here, HERE! nous trois! = we three! ViEnS!i-c-i-- = CoMe h-e-r-e-- Arrêtez! = Stop! [French].

398 / 381: vous savez,on VOLE ici! = you know, they STEAL here! oui,ils sont des sales types ici = yes, there are some unsavory types here [French].

402 / 385: Ilah! = Allah! See page 299/290: "ilah preserve our spirit!"

406 / 388: a street called Payrah = Grande Rue de Pera (now Istiklal Caddesi), at that time the major street in the European section. "Pera" is also a name for the district of Istanbul where Cummings' hotel is, across the Golden Horn from the oldest part of the city.

 

407 / 389: Roberts College? = more properly, Robert College, now Bogaziçi University. See pages 313-314 / 303.
  

407 / 389: TOSCA = the brand name of Cummings' new watch.

 

410 / 391: Harry Greb = middleweight boxer (1894-1926).

 

413-414 / 395: hugE /ness = Hagia Sophia. Cummings gives his reactions to the interior of the vast structure before he tells of arriving and entering it.

 

415 / 396:  . . . & else = Cummings' description of the Blue Mosque.


415 / 396: Enter (city:a.Dollcity. EEC visits the Grand Bazaar, a very large market enclosed in arcades. Compare this scene with the markets in Moscow (37-38, 79-80 / 78-79).

 

418 / 399: taxim = Taksim, a nightclub district. poules = "hens," French slang for prostitutes. See page 15.


423 / 404: l'Enclave de Karaghadge = the Turkish enclave within Thrace; "Karaghadge" or Karagatch is Karaağaç, a suburb of Edirne (Adrianople) at the border with Greece. [Cf. 430 / 411 as well: the enclosedness of Karaghadge.] Thanks to Steve Dodson for this note.

424 / 405: . . . incr / (oya / bl / )e . . . = "incredible, unbelievable" [French]. O / re / mus = "let us pray" [Latin].

 

427 / 408: subito! = quickly! [Italian]. je me rase maintenant. . . = I will shave now. There are books.

 

428 / 409: paraît there's pas d'argent for lunch = it appears there's no money for lunch. a trifle the Mille Et Un? = a trifle Thousand and One [Nights].

429 / 410: Captain Bonavita = Jack Bonavita (1866-1917), animal trainer who appeared with Frank Bostock's animal show headquartered at the Dreamland amusement park on Coney Island from 1904-11. Bonavita worked in films from 1913 to 1917, when he died from injuries suffered in a polar bear attack.

Bostock:Frank,"The Animal / King" = Frank C. Bostock (d. 1912), the author (with Ellen Velvin) of The Training of Wild Animals (New York, 1903). Bostock's "Great Animal Arena" toured America before finding a more permanent headquarters at the Dreamland amusement park. At right: Bostock's building at Dreamland (note the elephants).


429-30 / 410: Danger Deriding Death Defying Desperate Dare Devil Diavolo = loop-the-loop bicyclist "Diavolo." Several men performed this difficult stunt, which was very popular in the circus shows of the early 20th century. Most notable among the Diavolos are "J. C. Carter" (the stage name of one Conn Baker) and Robert (or George M.) Vandervoort, neither of whom "was killed in Havana" (430/410). Vandervoort / Diavolo, who worked for the Forepaugh and Sells Brothers United Shows, was killed in November 1906, "in a freight wreck at Rome, N.Y., . . . while working as a freight brakeman on the New York Central" ("Robert Vandervoort"). Conn Baker (1871-1944) retired to become a landscape artist, living to the relatively ripe old age of 73. However, in 1902 the New York Times reported that one Diavolo performer fell in London on August 5 of that year.

As Cummings indicates, one or another Diavolo performer was likely also billed as "Porthos Leaps the Gap over Nine Elephants" (429/410).
Research has uncovered a newspaper drawing of Porthos leaping the gap, but, alas, there are no elephants to be seen. Perhaps Diavolo/Porthos also performed as "Mlle D'Zizi." According to P. M. McClintock, "It wasn't discovered for years that 'Mlle. D'Zizi' was a man, though some customers noted 'her' big feet." (Scroll down to the "Boom and Bust" section of "The Cole Circus 'Curse'.") Advertisements depict "Mlle. D'Zizi " leaping over six (rather than nine) elephants--perhaps Cummings conflated Porthos' bicycle leap with Mlle. D'Zizi's slightly more modest feat? In "The Adult, the Artist and the Circus" (1925) Cummings praises Diavolo and also claims that the loop-the-looper died while performing, "at the motif, and in the execution of his art" (114). EEC again supposes that Porthos and Diavolo were the same person, while modestly claiming that Porthos leapt the gap over only five elephants. 

Bostock building at Dreamland


Bostock, Dreamland, Coney Island, N.Y. (1905, courtesy of The Library of Congress)


430 / 410: Forepaugh . . . The Only Living = this circus advertised "THE ONLY HERD OF 7 PERFORMING ELEPHANTS OWNED BY ANY ONE MAN IN AMERICA" and "THE ONLY LIVING MALE HIPPOPOTAMUS!" Compare these childhood memories with the Durov circus in Moscow (176-78 / 171-73).

430 / 410-411: for / -sitan et haec / olim = "forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit" (Virgil, Aeneid, I, 203) = "Some day, perhaps, remembering even this / Will be a pleasure" (Fitzgerald 10). Cummings' father quoted this line in a letter he wrote to his son in 1917 when EEC was imprisoned in the Enormous Room at La Ferté Macé, Orne, Normandy. Worried about the imminent entry of the USA into World War II, Cummings wrote to Ezra Pound in 1941: "As my father wrote to me when I disgraced Orne--forsan et haec. And the censor let those six words through" (P/C 160). See also Cummings' The Enormous Room.

430 / 411: Buffalo Bill = William F. Cody (1846-1917). Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show enthralled audiences from 1883 to 1910. See Cummings' poem "Buffalo Bill 's" (CP 90). See also Michael Webster's blog post, "Estlin Cummings, 'Animal Emperor and Wild West Impressario."

430 / 411: mai and the chevaux de bois & death: Cummings refers to his daughter Nancy riding the wooden horses on a merry-go-round in Paris. The word death most probably alludes to the anguish occasioned by the break-up of his marriage to Elaine in 1924. See notes to pages 131 / 129 and 443 / 423.

430 / 411: You es es are . . . = USSR RSVP PDQ QED A-men. Cummings makes fun of Aragon's poem "The Red Front," which presents the USSR as an unstoppable locomotive. In Cummings' translation: "The red train starts and nothing shall stop it / UR / SS / UR / SS / UR / SS" (CP 895). See pages 145-146 / 142-143.


430 / 411 the enclosedness of Karaghadge
from clavis meaning all the windows are open = l'Enclave de Karaghadge (cf. note 423 / 404). The train passes through this Turkish enclave at the Greek border, and Cummings translates "enclave" as "enclosedness," giving the etymology from Latin clavis or "key." Getting away from the Soviet Union is the key to opening all windows?

431 / 412: il treno der Zug = the train [Italian, German].

432 / 412: pavots = poppies [French].

 

432 / 413: esti  = εστι = "it is" [Greek]. This is another form of the verb είμί, "eimi" ("I am"), the title of the book.

USSR a USSR a night- = another parody of Aragon's poem "The Red Front." cauchemar = nightmare [French]. (Where Fifth Avenue Is)sic(Smrtest) = see page 6 / 7.

433 / 414: "c'est la vie,et non point la mort,qui divise l'âme du corps" = "It is life, and not death, that divides the soul from the body" (Tel quel 55). The line is from a collection of aphorisms and apercus called Choses tues (1928, 1932). This volume was translated as Asides and later collected in Tel quel (1941). In the standard English translation, the quote may be found in Valéry’s Analects (41).

433 / 414: ScotsWhaHaeishing = refers to Robert Burns' "Scots, wha hae" (1794), the first stanza of which reads: "Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled, / Scots, wham Bruce has aften led; / Welcome to your gory bed, / Or to victory!" By extension, Cummings refers also to Burns' "For a' That and a' That" (1795), with its famous lines, "Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine, / A man's a man for a' that."


434 / 415: clefs = keys. bien = good [French].

435 / 416: der-Zug = the-train [German]. pink(cochons! = pink(pigs! [French]. spelled à la russe Sophia = Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, spelled in the Cyrillic script ("hell's / alphabet"). . . . a piece of string Hohda Nyet = see page 92/90.

436 / 417: und Zeit = and time. in Zeit-[ungen] = in maga-[zines] [German]. It is these maga-[zines] that "flaunt / nudegals all over the plat(And How) / form" (437).

437 / 417-18: beograd = Belgrade, Yugoslavia. "--Où allez-vous?" = Where are you going? [French].  EEC visits the locomotive and addresses it in terms of prophecy.


437 / 418:  NOWTHE nowTHENthenNOWing it… HERET HERETH HERETHE HERETHER…--Vladimir Feshchenko suggests that "Cummings may be anagramming the Cyrillic spelling of the Russian word “НЕТ” [nyet] meaning NO, which is a key word of the Soviet unworld
in EIMI." In this passage Cummings re-imagines Aragon's conflation of the USSR with an unstoppable locomotive: "The red train starts and nothing shall stop it / UR / SS / UR / SS / UR / SS" (CP 895). (See the note on Aragon's poem to page 430/411.)


438 / 419: he who knoweth the eternal is comprehensive = the indented words in quotes are from section 16 of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching. On April 17, 1954, Cummings wrote to James Sibley Watson: "En passant:I owe the marvelous translation of a Lao Tsze sequence - Eimi p 419 - to "Psychological Types"; whose probably first American edition our nonhero sampled via the sole practicing Jungian of my then or thereafter acquaintance.  (Shamelessly enough,I didn't return the volume more than generously loaned)" (Letters 229). The translation appears on page 265 of Psychological Types.

 

lice--see pp. 414 / 395 and 426 / 407. Cummings may be remembering or referring to the following passage in chapter V of James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: "The life of his body, illclad, illfed, louseeaten, made him close his eyelids in a sudden spasm of despair: and in the darkness he saw the brittle bright bodies of lice falling from the air and turning often as they fell. Yes; and it was not darkness that fell from the air. It was brightness:

            Brightness falls from the air

            He had not even remembered rightly Nash's line." (254)

 

--χαίρετε-- = chairété [kai-ray-tay] = "rejoice, greetings, welcome" [Greek].

 

439 / 420: "OW rfathuz nmothus . . ." = "Our fathers and mothers didn't have them and you have."


441 / 421: chorneeyeh(nicht Blau)moryeh = black(not blue)sea [Russian, German, Russian]. (See pages 297/288, 318/307, and 347/334.)

 

442 / 422: ecco! = Behold!" [Italian].

Lachaise = sculptor Gaston Lachaise (1882-1935), known for large bronze female nudes. Cummings and Lachaise were good friends. See Cummings' essay, "Gaston Lachaise" (Miscellany 13-24). See also "The Vigorous Venus: An Examination of Gaston Lachaise."
makes manprouderect = Joan London says that the non-volunteering Russian scientist is "proud-erect" (as opposed to "proud-narrow") (173 / 168). Cummings uses the same term to describe the headwaiter at the Londonskaya Hotel (299 / 290).

man-à-la-chaise = "man as a chair" = Rodin's Thinker.

 
442 / 422: "excusez!" . . . ". . . j'
étais dans le costume de Monsieur Adam" = "Sorry! . . . I was in the costume of Mr. Adam" [French].

443 / 423: et les bat . . . eaux = "and the [sail]boats" [French]. EEC remembers toy boats in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. Some of these memories of Paris seem to be recollections of playing with his daughter Nancy: "Rode with her on child-merrygoroundpigs. . . ." (quoted in Kennedy 262). After the divorce from Elaine, EEC wrote a note saying goodbye to Nancy: "good bye dear & next time when I feel a little better we'll ride on the donkeys & next time on the pigs maybe or you will a bicycle & i will ride a swan . . ." (quoted in Kennedy 264).


443 / 423: “Créateur du ciel et terre, . . . comment aurait-il des enfants, . . . lui qui n’a pas de compagne?" = "Creator of the sky and earth, how could he have children, he who has no companion?" [French]. Though Cummings' Preface (xxxi / xvii) implies that this is a quote from Paul Valéry, it is actually from the Koran, Sura 6, verse 101. The quote appears in the context of debunking the notion that God could have children. For a similar French translation, see: http://islamfrance.free.fr/doc/coran/sourate/6.html. See also an English version that presents three translations side-by-side: http://majalla.org/books/quran/6.htm.

gui . . . gnols = puppet shows [French].


443 / 423: ago week A = these three words are repeated five times to indicate the five weeks in EIMI. See the note to page 91/89.

443 / 423: oga = "ago" spelled backwards. Five sections in this last chapter (each beginning with "oga" or "ago" and each representing one week) comprise what Cummings called a
"recapitulation" (a kind of collage of scenes, memories, and phrases). The five recapitulation sections proceed from the end of the book to the beginning, from week five to week one. The three sections (weeks 5, 3, and 1) beginning with "oga" ["oga" (443-44/423-424), "ogA" (447-449/427-428) and "O/G/A" (450-451/430)] go backward in time, while the two sections (weeks 4 and 2) beginning with "ago" (444-445/424-425 and 449/428-429) go forward in time. "douane?" = "customs?" [French].

445  / 425: alias demain SVP / for oggi:alias caldo;equals Italia = "alias tomorrow s'il vous plait [if you please] / for today:alias hot;equals Italy" [French and Italian].

dolce . . . fa[r] niente = "it is sweet to do nothing" [Italian].


445 / 425: (enter white;by child pridefully--see page 209 / 203.


445 / 425: that next god damned word?--see the notes to pages 323 / 312 and 447 / 426 (Lugete,).

445 / 425: (or am I dead)--see page 315/304.

446 / 425: "pour qu'elle peut respirer" = "so she can breathe" [French]. See page 83 / 82.

446 / 426: if only something happens if only--see page 371/356.

446 / 426: (Rain making alive) --see pages 316 / 305-306.

446 / 426: nyet / imposs / can't --see page 355/341, 392/375.

446 / 426: spelling it = spelling out the word "Operate" as he does on page 323 / 312. See the notes to pages 323 / 312 and 447 / 426 (Lugete,).
 
446 / 426: I like everything = EEC's parting words when leaving his Russian teacher's mother in Odessa to go back to his hotel in the rain (317/307). Compare with his statement that he likes "shining things" (
66/64, 85/84, 438/418).

446 / 426: don't care it doesn't matter because--see pages 318 / 307. 1(angular squats) (droops hugging a)gently a --see page 363/348.
& I supposed that I had known . . . of a than any universe older faceless;and such eyes,flowers of complete . . . --One word is left off the end of each quotation: "& I supposed that I had known agony" and "flowers of complete pain" (391/375).
) / a/ m / e / n --see page 430/411.

447 / 426: (Lugete,) = "Mourn," [Latin]. EEC refers to the first line of Catullus' poem #3, lamenting the death of his mistress' pet sparrow:


Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque,

et quantumst hominum venustiorum!

passer mortuus est meae puellae,

passer, deliciae meae puellae,

Mourn, ye Graces and Loves,
and all you whom the Graces love.
My lady's sparrow is dead,
the sparrow my lady's pet,
(trans. Harry Walker)

Venus and you, Cupids, shed
A tear, and all in man that's moved
By beauty, mourn. Her sparrow's dead,
My darling's darling, whom she loved
(trans. James Michie)

(For another translation, see “Carmen 3” at Rudy Negenborn’s Gaius Valerius Catullus site.) The reference to Catullus, as well as the imagery of rain and the words god damned on this and the previous page(s), point the reader back to the end of the "Thurs. June 4" chapter, where Cummings discovers in his pocket "a sketch for a telegram--sent?today,sent; this / : mourning" (323 / 312). The telegram [Don't Operate . . . Unless . . . Reason] asks his wife Anne Barton not to have an abortion unless medically necessary. Cummings is still mourning the lost, doomed child. See the notes to pages 323/312 and 305/295. See also Kennedy, Dreams 308-309, 313.

447 / 427: no,more Sunday = literally, this particular Sunday will end. Cummings repeats the word "Sunday" five times with various capitalizations to indicate the five previous Sundays in EIMI. See the notes on Sunday for pages 61/60 and
91/89. toward / demain = toward tomorrow.

450 / 429: "ils ont dévalisé ma malle / !" = "they have ransacked my trunk!"

"ils m'embêtent!" = "they're bothering me!"

 

450 / 430: "!J'ai Payé Deux Cent Cinquante FRANCS!" = "I've paid 250 Francs!"

 

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