Jul 12 2017

e. e. cummings – let it go

Published by at 8:54 am under Poetry

let it go — the
by e. e. cummings

let it go — the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise — let it go it
was sworn to

let them go — the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers — you must let them go they
were born
to go

let all go — the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things — let all go

so comes love

— from E.E. Cummings: Complete Poems 1904-1962, by e. e. cummings

/ Image by Mario Sánchez Nevado /

I apologize about my absence for the past couple of weeks. I had a dental crisis that led to a tooth extraction, which unexpectedly became dental surgery. I am recovering now and doing well.

It was quite an ordeal for more than a week leading up to the surgery, however. In a perverse way, it is fascinating to recognize just how much pain the body can be subjected to and what that experience is. When such sharp pain lasts for an extended period of time, over days, it is curious how our relationship to that pain can evolve and change. At first recognition of the discomfort, my instinct was to ignore it or shuffle it aside, hoping it would pass, not wanting to interrupt my rhythms and focus. Then when it became strong and undeniable, I had to reorder my sense of reality to acknowledge that it was an issue that was present and demanded attention and help. All too quickly the bravado crumbled and the desire to end the pain took over every thought.

But when pain medication only partially muted the pain and surgical relief was still days away, I realized that I had the option to either rage at the pain, tensing up and shutting down to fight my own senses, or I could do my best to relax, to accept the simple reality of its presence, to observe it, and to observe myself. Doing that, the pain started to become more fluid. It shifted out of “pain” and into a different sort of experience, something I might call “intensity.” For a a few days, that intensity became my worship, my meditation, my willing sacrifice.

But it was the actual surgery and the tooth extraction that prompted my selection of this poem. The tooth isn’t normally visible when I am talking or laughing, so its removal doesn’t have much social consequence. But it is a removal of a part of my body, a part that will never grow back. It can be replaced with a false tooth, sure, but the tooth itself, that part that was part of “me” is permanently gone. It is a partial death, if I want to look at it that way.

Of course, I don’t really believe that “I” am merely my body, nor is the loss of any part of that body an actual loss of self. But that’s easy to say or believe in an intellectual sense. Surgery forces me to prove it. It demands a deep examination of this belief. Do I truly relate to reality in this way, fully embodying it and living it from the inside out, or do I merely cultivate a facade in order to feel “spiritual”?

This was all encapsulated within the surgery itself — the intensity of physical sensation which held the potential to overwhelm my senses as pain, all the while thinking of that one tooth the dentist was working at. It had been a living part of my body for nearly the whole of my life. As part of my body, in some ways it had been part of me and I identified with it. Yet in a deeper sense it was more of an expression of me and my life energy, not truly me in my essence. I almost came to think of it as a companion along the journey. And it was time to let go.

That was my attitude during the surgery: Let go. With gratitude.

So many of our difficulties are caused by clinging to things and experiences when it is time for them to leave our lives. We cling to them because we identify with them. We believe they are somehow essential to who and what we are. We fear that without them, death or loss of self must result. Letting go, in the proper time, restores our balance and perspective. It reminds us that we are not those things and experiences, not even the body itself. It reminds us that even with loss and change, we ourselves remain — full of life and undiminished.

Let it go. With love. With gratitude.

This practice, enjoined on us by the impermanent nature of the world, reminds us of our eternal nature as we witness the pageantry and movement all about us.

— let all go

so comes love

Recommended Books: e. e. cummings

E.E. Cummings: Complete Poems 1904-1962 73 Poems 1 x 1 [One Times One] 50 Poems 95 Poems
More Books >>

e. e. cummings, e. e. cummings poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry e. e. cummings

US (1894 – 1962) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

More poetry by e. e. cummings

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “e. e. cummings – let it go”

  1. Amardeep Singhon 12 Jul 2017 at 10:12 am

    Dear Ivan:

    So sorry to hear about your tooth. I had severe pain in three molars before they were removed, and the pain was like something screaming inside my head. Every time I asked God, “Why did you put so many nerves in the teeth?”

    Well, all’s well that ends well; you are now fit and fine. Thank goodness.

    I like the part where you talk about letting go and how it makes us afraid of death. Yes, I think every letting go is a form of death, but if we are born we are always dying in some way, to old attachments, beliefs, whatever. In a way that is good, because we go through a lot of pain and it is good to die to that. Even physical death is a release from our old limitations and frees us to rise to something greater than before.

    I like how the poem ends with “love”. Normally I don’t have an attraction to e.e. cummings, but this is a nice poem.

    Take care of yourself!


  2. Karen Mon 12 Jul 2017 at 11:09 am

    What a wonderful poem, Ivan ~ thank you so much for sharing it. Letting Go into Love ~ yes, this is the way ~

  3. iqbalon 14 Jul 2017 at 4:12 am

    Dear Ivan wish u speedy recovery

  4. Annaon 14 Jul 2017 at 6:52 am

    Hey Ivan,

    Reading your long description of your “tragic” situation with the tooth,
    it make me a bit smile, because of the purity and sincerity of your words, as well of your deeper understanding and also of reminding me of my own of similar situations – physical, emotional, mental.

    Hundred of deaths.

    And with every death, next letting go, next understanding, next initiation with more love come…

    Like climbing a stair in infinity journey…

    Higher and higher…

    There is coming a moment, when there is no fear of pain and death, no thought about “spirituality”, even no thought about the little “me”, with its everyday worries…

    This e.e.cummings poem reminded me about Bunan’s saying :

    Die while you’re alive
    and be absolutely dead.
    Then do whatever you want:
    it’s all good.

    ~ Bunan (1603 – 1676)

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