i carry your heart

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There’s only two more days left until the end of April, which means the end of National Poetry month. I pretty much jumped in on the celebration a little bit late, but whatever! I’m enjoying it while I can, and today I am sharing yet another one of my favorite poems. (You can check out my contribution from yesterday here.)

This one, in particular, holds a very special place in my heart. It could be my all time favorite. I’m not sure when I discovered it. To be honest, it may have been Cameron Diaz’s recitation of the poem on the movie “In Her Shoes” (which by the way, I adore and need to watch again sometime soon) that hooked me for the first time.

This poem is about memory. It’s about love.

I had this poem read at my mother’s funeral, and I painted the line “i carry your heart, i carry it in my heart” across the belly cast I made when I was pregnant with Grace, that now resides in Grace’s room.

This poem makes me ache.

e.e. cummings is a master.

On a lighter note, I share this with my students each year. I use it in their poetry test (although in all honesty it deserves its own lesson). With it I have various short answer questions for them to answer. One that I ask is, “Who is the speaker in this poem, and who are they speaking to? How do you know? Use evidence from the poem to support your answer.” Another is, “The line ‘i carry your heart, i carry it in my heart’ is an example of figurative language. What can you infer that the speaker is really saying in this line?”

When students respond to the first question, the one about the speaker of the poem and who he or she is speaking to, I usually get many answers of “A husband speaking to his wife” or “Someone speaking to a loved one”; in addition I get a few deep thinkers who respond with “The speaker is speaking to a loved one that they have lost somehow…”, and this year I got “The speaker is a mom, speaking to their daughter” (We all know darn well that student was playing the “Mrs. Dietz has a daughter who she talks about non-stop” card” 🙂 ). Every year though, I get at least one student who responds with “It’s a man speaking to his lover.” The word lover being used by twelve and thirteen year olds always makes me giggle…and then on equal par to that, it makes me slightly uncomfortable.

Another funny answer I received in response to this poem was when a student responded to the last question, the one where I asked what e.e. cummings is really saying when he says “i carry your heart, i carry it in my heart.” Now the obvious answer, what I really want my students to get, is that e.e. cummings is being metaphorical, he’s not talking about carrying someone’s heart around with him (gross!), but someone’s memory. This year one of my students responded with “He means that he carries their dead body around with him every where he goes.”

I want to know what movies this kid is watching! He was 100% dead serious (no pun intended). Needless to say, when I read it while grading my students’ tests, I was rolling in laughter. It’s just one of many reasons I love teaching middle school.

Now that I have story time out of the way, here is the poem I’ve been rambling about. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

BY E. E. CUMMINGS

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
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