Wednesday, November 29, 2023

the last book I ever read (The Beauty of Living: e. e. cummings in the Great War, excerpt three)

from The Beauty of Living: e. e. cummings in the Great War by J. Alison Rosenblitt:

As Cummings grew up, he perceived before he rebelled. While the marriage between the Reverend and Rebecca appears to have been, for the most part, a happy one, Cummings glimpsed a cruel side to it as well. He heard his father criticize Rebecca’s management of the household expenses as a waste of his “hard earned money,” while he rubbed it in her face that she had been penniless at the time of her marriage. Rebecca was thirty-two when they married; Cummings was born six years later, and by the time she gave birth to Elizabeth, she was in her mid-forties. She came into herself with motherhood, growing in confidence as a mother and as a person. In youth, there was an open freshness in her face. She had dark, well-defined eyebrows over bright, slightly merry eyes, and an equivocal but amused smile. She was only five foot four, and after bearing children, she took on a certain stolidity. The youthful brightness in her eyes settled into a heavier face and a large personage, which exuded love and a quality of sturdily downward anchoring. The Reverend told her that she was fat; he nettled her with sarcasm about her “swan-like neck.” Cummings saw tears in her eyes, and hated his father for it.

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