In the following note E.E. Cummings relays news to Hildegarde Watson (wife of The Dial’s editor James Watson) of his mother’s death. Cummings maintained a deep-seated affection for her throughout his life:”If there are any heavens, my mother will (all by herself) have one.” His loss also translated into considerable financial difficulties; Cummings had thus far supported himself with a monthly paycheck in his mother’s name. In spite of this he writes without marked signs of grief, dwelling instead on the particulars of her crooked handwriting.
To Hildegarde Watson
3 Patchin Place
22 January 1947
Dear Hildegarde –
an extraordinary human being, someone gifted with strictly indomitable courage died some days ago
she was eighty-seven, very deaf and partially paralyzed; young of heart and whole of spirit. In her will, she asked that her eyes (which had never failed her) be given to any blind person who through them might see. And her last letter to me and Marion (obviously written with supreme difficulty) ends “Please excuse this writing”
such things I find wonderful and, feeling that you love what is wonderful, I wanted to share my admiration with you
From Selected Letters of E.E. Cummings. Edited by F.W. Dupee and George Stade. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World Inc, 1969.
Rebecca Cumming’s transcendentalist vision and its influence on her son.
Full text of “if there are…”
Going overboard: Clive James on “The Instrument to Measure Spring.”