Wednesday, December 5, 2018

"a watersmooth-silver//stallion"

In Design as Art (London: Penguin, 1966), Bruno Munari writes: "A poem only communicates if read slowly: only then does it have time to create a state of mind in which the images can form and be transformed." (68) Yet in e.e. cummings's "Buffalo Bill's" (1920), line 6 is designed to be read quickly:

and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat

Not simply the images in the poem, because these have already been established in the form of our hero (Buffalo Bill) and what he's riding in on ("a watersmooth-silver//stallion"), but their accelerant: the action taken towards Munari's "transformation." This is cummings's debt to the Italian Futurists (1909-1944): the speed -- and the violence -- in which that action takes place. 

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