Today’s re-released Parlando piece from our early years is “Crepuscule” by American poet E. E. Cummings. This is certainly a passionate, ecstatic poem, isn’t it! Looking back at what I wrote about it in 2018, I was then taking the main meaning of the poem to be a portrayal of falling into a Surrealistic dream state. In the same post I confessed I hadn’t remembered that Björk had performed a version of this poem that seemed filled with erotic desire.
Rereading and reconsidering, I’m more unsure which is metaphor and which is meaning — and I think that’s often a good thing in poetry. We’re in one of those gestalt drawings created with a spell of words. We could be in the transport of desire, and it is like unleashing a spectacular dream: flowers are not just colorful, but burning with color. We will be still in bed, yet leaping with sleep-closed eyes. And so on.* It’s difficult to not feel the erotic pull of the text. For a dream, the mystery is very much of the flesh. Mouths, thighs, bodily curves, fingers, lips…is it dream as sex or sex as dream?
An argument for the dream is the framing device of the poem reinforced by the title (crepuscule is an archaic word for twilight). Night and the dreamer have swallowed the sun, and the final line has one biting on the voltaic silver of the moon. But then Rimbaud took the arrival of dawn and sexualized it, so why couldn’t Cummings do the same for nightfall?
Here’s the new lyric video.
Three ways to hear my performance of E. E. Cummings “Crepuscle:” there’s a player gadget below for many, and there’s a backup highlighted link for the others. Want some dream images flowing behind the words of a lyric video? That video is above.
*The most mysterious line has lovely word-music: “with chasteness of sea-girls.” I’m assuming a reference to nereids, sea nymphs, but I’m unsure if the poet’s speaker is becoming one, or trysting with one, in the rush of their dream. If water spirits, perhaps gender fluidity is a subliminal?