So I changed the title. Please feel free to submit a formal complaint to the management. You can consider this the fourth and final installment of the “Love Poems You Wish You Had Written” series for 2015. There is about a half hour left in the day of the man who died to marry people (or so the story of St. Valentine goes). My sweetheart is in a food coma on the couch and we haven’t even gotten to dessert yet. I guess I overdid it.
Having worked in the restaurant industry, at first by choice and then as a means of survival, the last place I wanted to be was out on the town tonight. So I cooked, oh boy did I cook. Brie with apricots, honey, pecans and golden raisins; Caesar salad with red onions and red romaine; and Brian’s favorite, chicken Parmesan with my own pasta sauce. Maybe it was the champagne that knocked him out?
I suppose this situation is an apt illustration for the principle in tonight’s poem. I enjoy cooking, the feeling of being creative in the kitchen, knowing that I’m giving people pleasure through that creation. If I started with the technique, and never got past it, the result might be a good dish, but I am guessing it would be missing something of the magic. Poetry perhaps is like that, if you’ll allow me the metaphor. First come the feelings, then the writing, then the honing and crafting and polishing to make it a piece of art.
And if you spend too much time analyzing, “paying attention to the syntax of things,” you’ll miss the magic, the fun of just wholly embracing (dare I say it?) “the joy of cooking,” glass of wine in hand, friends, family or lovers in the kitchen, or nearby, maybe strumming a guitar, playing the piano, petting the cat, losing a video game. Don’t suck the magic out of the art, out of the moment. Just enjoy it. Perhaps that is what Cummings is saying.
No matter what I cook, when I am proud and happy that my hubby is happy, I start to describe how I accomplished the meal, listing ingredients, bragging about the technique. But Brian invariably protests, “Don’t demystify it for me!” Isn’t that cute? He just wants to savor the magic.
Kathleen over at The Course of Our Seasons requested this poem by E. E. Cummings and I include for you the awful and silly reading I did of it on my balcony in 2011. I had my cool shades on, the flowers behind me; the sun was out. I was feeling goofy and springy because “spring was in the world,” and I was shooting for some novel way of reciting the poem, some unconventional approach.
Well, some people loved it, but the most fantastic response (I regret deleting it) was from a guy who said, “That was my favorite poem. You ruined it.” Ha! Well, you are welcome, friend. Sometimes that YouTube thing is just a vehicle of fun. Let’s not take it so seriously, even if we aren’t sure anymore if we were trying to be serious or not. God, I hope I wasn’t, because this truly is awful!
I must say though, I was proud that I memorized the piece–not one of my strengths, I assure you. The second video below is much more tame and balanced, by a lovely young man who is a complete stranger to me. I assume this was a homework assignment for him, but hey, guy, nice job! I like how he reverently recites the poem, not too much emotion, but not robotic either. He also has some insightful commentary after the musical interlude, which he ties to the poem quite cleverly.
As is often the case, I include the poem (this time at the top of the page) so you can follow. Whatever you did today, alone with your beautiful, lovely self, or in the company of those you adore, I wish you the happiest of Valentine’s days, or Valentine’s weekends now, since by my Eastern Standard clock it is now quarter past midnight. I wasn’t paying any attention.
PS. And yes, he wrote it “E. E. Cummings“.