ee cummings and a slight change of voice

Amazing, all the unexpected changes a simple thing like switching medium can wreak upon a piece.

Here’s ‘the sky was’ by ee cummings, as read by a Librivox volunteer.

It`s a good poem, front-to-back. The reader’s voice is really interesting; the way he hangs onto the word ‘spouting,’ the recording slowing then rushing forward to the hard, almost over-enunciated “End of poem. This recording is in the public domain” like hitting a wall, stopped dead.

The voice can do wonderful things for a poem, that’s for sure; one of the main tenets of an education in poetry seems to be that you haven’t really gotten a poem until you’ve heard it out loud.

But is poetry truly an aural medium anymore? With the advent of the typewriter, poets like ee cummings were able to turn poetry into something much more visual, into statements and shapes and lines and curves.

Each time a piece is converted, from language to text to type to .mp3, pre tag or animated .js function, it needs to be reconsidered–because whether a little or a lot, it’s changed and is different.

Check out ‘the sky was’ on a page here

What do you think of the reading now?

PS Librivox is a fantastic source for free public-domain audiobooks. Some of the titles are a little obscure, as are some of the readers, but that kind of makes it better.


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