Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TODAY'S TWD: ee cummings @ McSORLEY'S

It's Tuesday. Another episode of 'New Amsterdam' aired last night and that's always good for the daily Tiddlywinkydink look at History as seen in Toobworld.....
While getting to know Sarah Delane better in the episode of "Honor", detective John Amsterdam discovered that she liked the poetry of ee cummings. He revealed that even though cummings was a great poet, he was also a mean drunk. (It was said in such a way as to make one think that John had studied the life of the poet, but more than likely he probably knew cummings and quite often got drunk with him.)

From Wikipedia:
Edward Estlin Cummings (October 14, 1894 – September 3, 1962), popularly known as ee cummings, was an American poet, painter, essayist, and playwright. His body of work encompasses more than 900 poems, several plays and essays, numerous drawings, sketches, and paintings, as well as two novels. He is remembered as a preeminent voice of 20th century poetry, as well as one of the most popular.

A lot of that drinking with cummings probably took place in McSorley's pub down on East 7th Street here in New York City. (15 East 7th Street New York, NY 10003) It's the type of place where John Amsterdam could feel the sense of community, to watch this microcosm of his home, New York, grow up around him while he remained the same.

Our nation was born in taverns. In colonial America they were places where people would go not only to eat and drink and pass the time but to argue the issues of the day, more and more vehemently as the gulf with Great Britain widened … On the one hand, our traditional Puritan ethic requires us to eschew wasting time in barrooms; on the other hand, tavern-going is in our genes, and a large part of tavern culture was handed down from our God-fearing but beer-loving forebears.

Others, however, find their tentative steps into the world of the American public house to be an encounter with world history, a chance to commune with ghosts: the traditions, legends, and, in some cases, the very locales that have played a vital role in the development of this nation.

- Stephen Beaumont and Janet Forman, "Liberty Inn" (American Heritage Magazine, July 2003)
ee cummings wrote a poem about McSorley's in 1925, ("i was sitting in mcsorley's") and it was probably John Amsterdam's favorite watering hole since it opened back in 1854. (At least until his son Omar York opened his own bar & grill....)

In cummings' poem, he called the "snug and evil" McSorley's "the ale which never lets you grow old". Perhaps he noticed that pub regular John (whatever his name may have been back then) was not aging like the others around him, and ascribed the phenomenon to the drink.

John quoted a line from a poem by ee cummings: "for life's not a paragraph... and death I think is no parenthesis".

This is from the poem "since feeling is first", which could apply to the blooming relationship between John and Sarah, especially if it does turn out that she is "the One" who can make him mortal again.....

"since feeling is first"

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a far better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
--the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

and death I think is no parenthesis

If you ever get the chance to visit McSorley's, take a close look at the pictures lining the walls. You may spot ee cummings in there. And maybe John Amsterdam with him! (If so, you've just crossed over into the Toobworld Zone!)
You can learn more about "The Old House At Home" at the
McSorley's website.

Toby OB

No comments: