In 2015, I made a page of links to Cummings readings available on the web called “Audio Cummings.” Most notable among these is a link to an October 1949 recording of Cummings reading at the 92nd Street Y. [See the “Audio Cummings” post for a track list.] Since 2015, a few more publicly available readings have appeared, most notably the following.

  1. The first Caedmon LP

The sound recordings from E. E. Cummings Reads His Poetry (1953) may be found at The listing of the links to individual tracks on this page has a glitch, beginning at track 15, where one does indeed hear “o by the by,” but then at 1:10 on the track, we hear “hate blows a bubble of despair into” and, after that poem, one hears “Yes is a pleasant country.” Track 16, which is labelled “hate blows a bubble of despair into,” actually features the beginning of “i thank you God for most this amazing” which is completed on track 17. And the mislabeling of tracks continues until the end. [See track 15.]

Here is a revised version of the track list:

  1. Him (The Acrobat Passage)
  2. Eimi (Lenin’s Tomb)
  3. Santa Claus (Scene Three)
  4. when serpents bargain for the right to squirm (XAIPE) [CP 620]
  5. dying is fine)but Death (XAIPE) [CP 604]
  6. why must itself up every of a park (XAIPE) [CP 636]
  7. when god decided to invent (One Times One) [CP 566]
  8. nothing false and possible is love (One Times One) [CP 574]
  9. Hello is what a mirror says (One Times One) [CP 570] 
  10. who were so dark of heart they might not speak (XAIPE) [CP 649]
  11. i say no world (50 Poems) [CP 523]
  12. life is more true than reason will deceive (One Times One) [CP 592]
  13. what if a much of a which of a wind (One Times One) [CP 560]
  14. one’s not half two. It’s two are halves of one (One Times One) [CP 556]
  15. o by the by (One Times One) [CP 593]; hate blows a bubble of despair into (50 Poems) [CP 531]; yes is a pleasant country (One Times One) [CP 578]
  16. i thank You God for most this amazing [octave] (XAIPE) [CP 665]
  17. i thank You God for most this amazing [sestet] (XAIPE)
  18. “sweet spring is your (One Times One) [CP 591]
  19. true lovers in each happening of their hearts (One Times One) [CP 576]
  20. when faces called flowers float out of the ground [stanzas 1-2] (XAIPE) [CP 665]
  21. when faces called flowers float out of the ground [stanza 3] (XAIPE)

2. Readings available at Harvard

The Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University has constructed a Listening Booth where one can hear readings from over two hundred writers, among them modern poets such as T. S. Eliot, Edna St. Vincent Millay, W. H. Auden, and, of course, E. E. Cummings.

At the Cummings page, one finds the complete i: six nonlectures, as well as a reading of selections from XAIPE given on April 25, 1953. Cummings reads twelve poems, mostly from the beginning or the end of the book, in the following order, with poems numbered as they are in the book:

    1. this(let’s remember)day dies again and (CP 599)

    3. purer than purest pure (CP 601)

    5. swim so now million many worlds in each (CP 603)

    6. dying is fine)but death (CP 604)

    22. when serpents bargain for the right to squirm (CP 620)

    41. whose are these(wraith a clinging with a wraith) (CP 639)

    59. the little horse is newlY (CP 657)

    65. i thank You God for most this amazing (CP 663)

    67. when faces called flowers float out of the ground (CP 665)

    69. now all the fingers of this tree(darling)have (CP 667)

    66. the great advantage of being alive (CP 664)

    71. luminous tendril of celestial wish (CP 669)

Another reading recorded on April 18, 1953 is listed on the Harvard Cummings page, with the following disclaimer: “Due to copyright restrictions, this recording is available only to Harvard users. To access the recording, click here. A Login will be required.” Despite this note’s dire warning, the link at “click here” takes one to a page titled “Selections from Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll / Cummings, E. E. (Edward Estlin), 1894-1962 [speaker]”—where no log in as a “Harvard user” is required. Clicking on the button “Online Access” takes one to a page where the listener can hear Cummings reciting these Lear and Lewis Carroll poems:

    Calico Pie (Edward Lear)

    The Owl and the Pussy Cat (Edward Lear)

    The Pobble Who Has No Toes (Edward Lear)

    The Jumblies (Edward Lear)

    Beautiful Soup (Lewis Carroll)

    Jabberwocky (Lewis Carroll)

    Father William (Lewis Carroll)

    The Walrus and the Carpenter (Lewis Carroll)

Plus, we find this example, from Harvard University, a 4:17 clip from the third of the six nonlectures: (47-48). At the end of the clip, Cummings sings bits of songs popular around 1915 or so.)

Despite the Woodberry’s disclaimer that “due to the transition to a new library platform, this site was discontinued in 2018,” the page functions quite well. The page further advises: “For more recent videos, please visit the WPR YouTube channel. For additional archival recordings, you can search HOLLIS under the author’s name and recording date.”

3. A Cummings Poetry Reading at Eastern Michigan University [1959]

Despite some annoying electronic screeches from time to time, this double album of readings preserved at is well worth a listen. Track lists follow, along with some marginal comments.

Track list,part 1, 31:50]:

  1. [0:00-2:35] Introduction by anonymous announcer
  2. [2:50-3:55] Introduction by Cummings
  3. [4:00] in Just- / spring (CP 17)
  4. [5:45] nobody loses all the time (CP 237)
  5. [8:25] Memorabilia (CP 254) [EEC pronounces “Thos. Cook” as “Those Cook.”]
  6. [10:55] a man who had fallen among thieves (CP 256) [“banged with terror”]
  7. [13:05] next to of course god america i (CP 267) [He acts the voice well.]
  8. [14:35] since feeling is first (CP 267)
  9. [16:00] somewhere i have never travelled (CP 367)
  10. [18:35] if there are any heavens my mother will(all by herself )have (CP 353)
  11. [20:15] kumrads die because they’re told) (413) [He pronounces the word “comrades”]
  12. [21:40] this mind made war (CP 440) [Note Boston accent.]
  13. [25:24] (of Ever-Ever Land i speak (CP 466)
  14. [28:00] anyone lived in a pretty how town (CP 515)

Track list, part 2, 27:53

  1. of all the blessings which to man (CP 544)
  2. [2:10] ygUDuh (CP 547)
  3. [2:50] a salesman is an it that stinks Excuse (CP 549)
  4. [3:46] a politician is an arse upon (CP 550)
  5. [4:10] rain or hail (CP 508)
  6. [5:50] darling!because my blood can sing (CP 580)
  7. [8:28] “sweet spring is your (CP 591)
  8. [10:40] o by the by (CP 593)
  9. [12:25] when serpents bargain for the right to squirm (CP 620)
  10. [14:05] maggie and milly and molly and may (CP 682)
  11. [15:30] that melancholy (CP 697) [no 3 taps at “t,a,p,s”]
  12. [17:30] what Got him was Noth (CP 702)
  13. [18:35] THANKSGIVING (1956) (CP 711) [He says “the UN,” rather than “the you enn”]
  14. [21:25] my father moved through dooms of love (CP 520)

4. Cummings on You Tube

Readings of Cummings poems on the web can sometimes be disappointing. From the vast wilderness of You Tube, I choose Cummings reading “A Poet’s Advice to Students” (1955).