Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E.E. Cummings is featured in our 20 Books of Poetry Everyone Should Own, from O's poetry issue.

Songs, III

Always before your voice my soul
half-beautiful and wholly droll
is as some smooth and awkward foal,
whereof young moons begin
the newness of his skin,

so of my stupid sincere youth
the exquisite failure uncouth
discovers a trembling and smooth
Unstrength,against the strong
silences of your song;

or as a single lamb whose sheen
of full unsheared fleece is mean
beside its lovelier friends, between
your thoughts more white than wool
My thought is sorrowful:

but my heart smote in trembling thirds
of anguish quivers to your words,
As to flight of thirty birds
shakes with a thickening fright
the sudden fooled light.

it is the autumn of a year:
When through the thin air stooped with fear,
across the harvest whitely peer
empty of sunrise
death's faultless eyes

(whose hand my folded soul shall know
while of faint hills do frailly go
The peaceful terrors of the snow,
and before your dead face
which sleeps,a dream shall pass)

and these my days their sounds and flowers
Fall in a pride of petaled hours,
like flowers at the feet of mowers
whose bodies strong with love
through meadows hugely move.

yet what am i that such and such
mysteries very simply touch
me,whose heart-wholeness overmuch
Expects of your hair pale,
a terror musical?

while in an earthless hour my fond
soul seriously yearns beyond
this fern of sunset frond on frond
opening in a rare
Slowness of gloried air...

The flute of morning stilled in noon—
noon the implacable bassoon—
now Twilight seeks the thrill of moon,
washed with a wild and thin
despair of violin
—E.E. Cummings

Reprinted from Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E.E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage. Copyright © 1931, 1959, 1991 by the Trustees for the E.E. Cummings Trust. Copyright © 1979 by George James Firmage. Used by the permission of the publisher, Liveright Publishing Corporation.

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