That’s a year that everyone studying History of the English Language (abbrev.: HEL) learns to love. It explains why our Germanic language doesn’t sound or act like, well, German. Because that’s when Duke William of Normandy defeated the English and their king, Harold Godwinson (he really was the son of Godwin), at the Battle of Hastings, although there were several towns nearer the site who could have lent their names. The location is now the town of Battle. Go figure. So why am I bothering you with this information? Because that battle, which incidentally Harold didn’t survive, had a date as well as a year, and that date is today’s, October 14. Which is the date French walked in the door of the English language and began something amazing. I knew you’d want to know.

What Cummings Liked

Today is the birthday of E. E. Cummings (b. 1894). He drove an ambulance in WWI until the French censors took issue with his predictably incomprehensible letters and decided that (a) they must be code and (b) he was a spy, so he became a prisoner of the country he went to help. He is famous for his curious approach to poetic form and orthography, but he could also write conventional forms, even sonnets. You doubt? Read on.

i like my body when it is with your
e.e. cummings

i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh … And eyes big love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill

of under me you so quite new