Painter-poet E.E.Cummings is a literary experimentalist in defying the conventions of languageand poetry. Tulips and Chimneys – hisfirst collection of sonnets, – displays Cummings innovative literary stylewhile professing the philosophy of Lebensphilosophie (Mead, 1975) that focuseson value, purpose, and meaning of life (Gaiger, 1998).
A sonnet in thiscollection entitled, “kitty”.sixteen, 5′ 11″, white, prostitute,describes a girl named Kitty whose innocence and freedom was removed byprostitution during in this pervading industry (The Thought Experiment, 2010). Throughexamining two stylistics aspects: graphological form of Petrarchan sonnet, andusage of capitalization, the identity of prostitutes and their relationshiptoward their clientele are illustrated in monostiches 1, 4, 8, and 12.Knowing Petrarchansonnets, its conventions prescribe two stanzas, the octave and sestet, in aniambic pentameter. It introduces a proposition from the octave and answered bythe volta in the sestet. Yet Cumming’s sonnet divided the stanzas into substanzas of monostiches, couplets, and tercets.
This irregularity elicits thenotion that Cummings is trying to group the ideas in his poem as defiance tothe conventions of the sonnet. The monostichdeviation of lines 1, 4, 8 and 12 introduces the nature and environment ofprostitutes. Monostiches create strong arguments for the poem that Sfetcu (2014) considers themas important as titles and can be subtly used for its brevity. Monostich 1 explicitly emphasizing prostitutionof female adolescents as the topic of the poem and reintroduced in monostich 8.These monostiches are important to center the subject of octave and sestet inthe poem. Another important deviation from monostich 8is the sub line of a noun phrase “you corking brute.
” It acts instead as thevolta or turn of topic as a response to line 1 which supposedly to be observedin line 9. Vernyik (2009) mentioned that the “corking brutes” are the clientelewho are enthralled to the prostitution business. Implying that prostitution merely notconcerns the juvenile victims but also the people who support and patronizethis business.
Cummings evidently shows the subtleness in connecting the ideaof prostitutes and their clients in making a sub-line with the noun phrase. In relation the previousmonostiches, 4 and 12 summarize the relationship of a whore and client in theprostitution business. Monostich 4 alonegenerally pictures how prostitutes work as Mead (1975) states it as theantithesis of sexual love: the “quick softness” sex. While monostich 12directly tells that clients only wait for the service of prostitutes anddenoting the use of alcoholic vices which are served only to pubs and cabarets(Vernyik, 2009). This monostich also posits the additional information to thelocation where prostitution happens and the likes of people to be involved init. With the four monostiches, It already summarizes the identity ofprostitutes, their relationship with people, and the environment they belongThe deviance of usingproper capitalization among the monostiches further highlights the prevalentbusiness of juvenile prostitution. In comparing the low cased name of Kitty in monostich1 inside the quotation marks and the unquoted capitalized name in monostich 8reveals two different truths about prostitution.
Monostich 8 uses a proper nounin capitalized-form, it evokes familiarity with the person named Kitty who is”a whore.” While the use of quotation marks in monostich 1 denotes a reportedspeech that someone calls somebody as “kitty,” and the use of low-cased formsuggesting “kitty” is not a proper but common noun like a sobriquet for otherprostitutes whom the client is unfamiliar in the business. Divulging the firsttruth with the support of line 7 that prostitution became “banal.” As the nameKitty represents multitude of juveniles becoming prostitutes and called byunfamiliar names of the clientele. Similar on how theword “sixteen” was used in different case-forms respectively along with thename Kitty in order to establish familiarity to the subject. Interestingly, the capitalization of lettersconnotes the second truth that even in their adulthood, prostitutes like Kittywill still be in this industry as shown from the use of small cases and biggercases subsequently.
Moreover, the lower-cased “a whore” in monostich 8 and”cute” (as reference to sex performance) in monostich 4 after periods areperhaps symbolically associated to Kitty who does unscrupulous trades despitebeing juvenile. In other words, prostitution takes the innocence and childhoodfrom these youths. The monostiches asgrphological deviations highlight the identity of juvenile prostitutes. Thedeviation further elicits the nature of prostitution and their morbid situationin divulging two realities.
First is the prevalence of prostitution in thesociety and second is the marring of innocence and childhood of youths.Cummings showcased how names in this poem can be powerful in picturing therealities of societies. Similar to an epithet that can evoke visual images andimpressions of someone. Names are associated with the status and importance ofan individual in the society.
The created identity of people are registered tothe society in these words called “names.”