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CRITICAL PERSPECTIVE In “Latter, Day Notes on E. E. Cummings' Language” (1955), Robert E. Maurer suggests that Cummings often coined new words in the same way that children do: for example, “by adding the normal, er or, est (beautifier, chief et), or stepping up the power of a word such as last, which is already superlative, and saying lastest,” creating words such as givingest and whirlingest. In addition to “combining two or more words to form a single new one … to give an effect of wholeness, of one quality” (for example, yellowgreen), “in the simplest of his word coinages, he merely creates a new word by analogy as a child would without adding any shade of meaning other than that inherent in the prefix or suffix, he utilizes, as in the words unstrength and untimid. … ” Many early reviewers, Maurer notes, criticized such coinages because they “convey a thrill but not a precise impression,” a criticism also leveled at Cummings's poetry more broadly. Consider the coinages in “in Just.”

Do you agree that many do not add “shades of meaning” or provide a “precise impression”? Or do you find that the coinages contribute to the poem in a meaningful way?

 
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