next to of course god america i… (III)

“next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn’s early my
country tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?”

He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water

Analysis, meaning and summary of e.e. cummings's poem next to of course god america i… (III)

32 Comments

  1. Big bender says:

    I believe that this poem is about a person who is reading a messege out to the public like(george bush) did because he did not write any of his speechs He has them written for him so i believ it is a big metaphor saying that they are like ventriloquists told what to say.

    But also it could be that the poem is about a person telling a story from the past about how pilgrims supposedly were the founders of america and he then realises at the end when he drinks the water that he has to take a drink to calm down and forget about it

  2. dani says:

    in the last line, when cummings says ‘he spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water’ it could actually be him washing his mouth out from the things he feels he perhaps should not have said

  3. Scott says:

    @David and all others who believe the poem is unpatriotic.
    This poem by e. e. cummings is actually patriotic. he is admonishing the people who persuade others to support war.

    This analysis gives a good idea as to what e. e. cummings may be trying to say through the poem: bookstove.com/Poetry/Patriotism-and-Poetry-next-to-of-course-god-america-i-by-e-e-cummings.498759

  4. James says:

    TO all those who take this as a symbol of patriotism: you are the people Cummings is ripping the piss out of with this piece.
    The speaker is clearly a politician, the platitudes and unfinished anthem he spouts are not given meaning, importance, or space.
    The form is a usurped form of sonnet (which are always love songs) so what else can he be doing but usurping this political over-done love for america?
    Notice how slaughter is rhymed with the (unfinished) ending couplet? notice how it changes rythm on that line?
    He is pointing out the senseless slaughter carried out in the name of america.
    Sorry patriots, this is clearly NOT for you. (it is however, brilliant- like most Cummings work.)

  5. J.A. Garrido says:

    “America makes prodigious mistakes, America has colossal faults, but one thing cannot be denied: America is always on the move. She may be going to Hell, of course, but at least she isn’t standing still.”

    e.e. cummings said the above quote.
    I don’t mean to be melodramatic (but) this poem couldn’t be further away frompatriotism. The inclusion of ‘andsoforth’ is indeed (As someone else mentioned) the poet satirising the superflous spewing of nationalism that is so typical of (myfellow) americans. That is really only one example, but i cant be bothered to think of more, so forget about it.

  6. kichu says:

    The poem is satirizing the fact that America is great. But in reality is very different. one of the ideals of America is lierty or equality, but they dont have it. He also criticizes the polititions for inaction, theytend to say things, but never do it. They are repeating the same things again and again and it becomes meaning les.

  7. tiki says:

    honestly, i feel that this poem has many different and almost opposite-like ideas. cummings’ character praises the fact that America is a glorious nation and all who reside in America hold great pride in their country. Soldiers are proud to go fight for what America stands for, for them in this world. And the thing that this character emphasizes is that these soldiers of America fight for the beauty of America; the freedom, the liberty. The soldiers don’t even think one bit; to such an extent that they are ready to face death even when it comes to them. cummings sarcastically remarks how America has patriotic soldiers representing her freedom, without thinking because they only have the thought that war glorifies a nation and “beautifies” the “voice of liberty.” This poem is a poem of the question WHY towards this capitalist train of thinking of patriotism in these soldiers and people of America. The real question is Why is freedom fighting when everything should be earned or given in freedom? including individual worth and thought?

    🙂 this is what i think. i just wrote what came to my mind.

  8. Alicia says:

    @amy this poem is definitely a patriotic poem, just because cummings did not capitalize america doesn’t mean that it is not patriotic. you need to realize that cummings writes in his own specific style which includes little to no capitalization, which makes a bigger impact on the reader because it makes the reader think. and so what if he didn’t capitalize america it doesn’t change the intent of the poem, which is mainly about how people think of america and how people are willing to die for america with out even a second thought which show a great deal of patriotism.

  9. JOJO says:

    THIS POEM WAS AWSOME

  10. Alex says:

    At face value, E.E. Cummings’ “next to of course god america i”, impacts the reader with little to no emotional influence. Instead, the poem initially impresses its audience by assuming the appearance of, essentially, an incomprehensible slew of words thrown together without order or apparent meaning. As is the case for most well written, quality poetry, however, close reading of “next to of course got america i”, illustrates the author’s meticulous poetic methodology; in which not a single syllable lacks explicit purpose in a connotative or denotative sense. The poet effectively posits the tone and purpose for “next to of course god america i”, through an, albeit grammatically convoluted, yet suggestively crafted, seven word title, and by continuing on with the poem as a satirical dramatization of the conflict between a public speaker’s empty charade of patriotism, and the audience’s cynical reception of his speech. The poet achieves the portrayal of this relationship through the use of various literary devices, imagery, diction, rhyme, and other aural and visual details throughout.
    The speaker dictates the poem in two stanzas, the first being thirteen lines, and the second only one. The total poem consists of fourteen lines in combination with a clear rhyme scheme which makes it a sonnet. The speaker leaves out all punctuation from the first stanza, except one question mark at the end, to purposefully interfere with the reader’s ability to comprehend the first stanza on the first read. The lack of punctuation makes the speaker sound rambling and indefinite, and it makes the poem’s first thirteen lines look like a random compilation of words. The second stanza incorporates much more sanity by adding some grammatically comprehensive punctuation in the form of a single period. The rambling sound of the speech followed by the coherency exhibited by the rational, one-lined listener juxtaposes the overall theme, which implies that the supposed representatives of America are just figure heads chanting empty, insubstantial lyrics of pretend patriotism from a speechwriters poisoned ink pen. All the while, the American people are forced to watch their soldiers, who are the ones fighting for American ideals, and acting as the true muted voice of liberty, die, and shake their heads as they suffer from one disappointing, representative inadequacy after another.

  11. amy says:

    this poem was published in 1926, which is most certainly NOT after World War II. It IS, however, after World War I. Is this what you meant, Chris S.? Also, this poem is very comparable to Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est”. They both lament the loss of so many young lives as well as clamor against the presumption that “it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country”.

    “next to of course god america i” is absolutely not a patriotic poem. would a patriotic poem include a lower-cased “america” in the title?

  12. colleen says:

    Nadia, I really appreciated your comment! I am caught up on the “He” in the poem’s final line and not completely satisfied with the explanation that He is a politician. Is it significant that He is capitalized while i is not? Why drink a glass of water? Water has a lot of religious associations including the forgiveness of sins and washing one’s hands of guilt. Or, perhaps the speaker is drinking water so that he will be able to continue speaking. The rhetorical question, “shall the voice of liberty be mute?” is interesting too. Does the speaker see himself as the voice of liberty? I like the satirical tone, but am really lost on this final line.

  13. Chris S. says:

    I think the whole poem is sarcastic.

    First he starts out with “next to of course god america i” The “of course” suggests that, even though church and state are supposed to be separate, they are not, and God rules the country.
    In the next line he says “land of the pilgriims and so forth”. What does he mean by “and so forth”? Could he be refering to the native americans and mexican people that were here before us and just kind of got pushed aside?
    The inclusion of the two patriotically famous songs could be a mockery of our superfluous patriotism, later stating that “we should worry in every language even deafanddumb thy sons acclaim your glorious name by jing by gee by gosh by gum”.
    He then ends it with the extremely sarcastic “beautiful… happy dead who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter… then shall the voice of libert be mute?”. I kind of think that the last line has a double meaning. It could mean that the soldier who fought for liberty are now dead, but I like to think that it is refering to how they had no say in what they did. The soldiers were ordered to go and die, but had no choice. They were not allowed to think for themselves, or decide for themselves if what they were fighting for was right. Since this was published after World War two, he could be refering to the conscription (draft).

    That’s my opinion, but no one can really be right.
    I’m only 17 after all, so if you don’t accept my interpretation, ignore it.

  14. Tanya says:

    This poem by e.e. cummings is about a man mocking a politition in a chauvinistic manor. He is adorting his country and ridiculing it at the same time.
    Allusions to the National Anthom and the other patriotic song about how great america is. But then “deafanddumb”, “mute liberty”, “heroic happy dead.” Young, inieve people goig tono a war without knowing the cause or purpose for it.

  15. Tanya says:

    This poem by e.e. cummings is about a man mocking a politition in a chauvinistic manor. He is adorting his country and ridiculing it at the same time.
    Allusions to the National Anthom and the other patriotic song about how great america is. But then “deafanddumb”, “mute liberty”, “heroic happy dead.” Young, inieve people goig tono a war without knowing the cause or purpose for it.

  16. Emily says:

    I love how this poem uses my country tis of thee, and the star spangled banner. This poem shows the great respect and love we have for our country!

  17. Tangy says:

    I like how many people misinterpret this poem. I have had many people read it and some of them have even commented on the patriotism of e.e. Cummings. This poem brilliantly combines [at the beginning] a sense of patriotism and pride but [at the end] shows us how foolish we are for ignoring the down side of war. Patriotism isn’t all it is cracked up to be.

  18. Doug says:

    I agree with the politician speech, seeing as though it is in quotes. There is quite a sarcastic tone to this seeing as though 2 famous American songs are in here. My country tis of thee……, and the star spangled banner, he juxtaposes those pride and “our country is great” songs with the “heroic happy dead”
    And the only question i pose, is “the mute voice?” is that the voice of the dead who fought in the war?

  19. Billy says:

    I think that this poem is really weird. Sorry but it’s kind of (really) Stupid

  20. gpar2008 says:

    This poem at first glabe is a mere poem of patriotism, but it goes much deeper than that. I like the way cummings breaks the rules of writing, he is a true modernist writer. He uses irony,and figurative language which is refreshing compared to various other poems.

    -G Par

  21. Chris says:

    Going back to Har Har’s comment, any partisan politics are “moronic.” Such generalization makes you seem like a very narrow-minded person. I side neither with the “left” or “right” because I believe thinking for yourself involves detaching yourself from either political position (granted there are more than two). To help clarify, here are the words of the greatest America poet ever:
    “While some on principles baptized
    To strict party platforms ties
    Social clubs in drag disguise
    Outsiders they can freely criticize
    Tell nothing except who to idolize
    And then say God Bless him.” – Bob Dylan

    (Ownage)

  22. Katie says:

    I think all of us understand the poem. the fact that it is a jumbled mix of patriotic sayings is so evident it need not be expressed. The point is the meaning behind it. does this mass of patriotism sencerely make up for the loss of life and the lack disingenuous nature in which it is presented? We are looking at our current leaders and seeing this mass of jingo being presented once again. I like to read this poem in conjuction with “Dulce et decorum est”. its a nice match.

  23. no name says:

    none of u understand this poem……the poem is a speech of a politician. it is mocking him because there is no original thought. his words are the words of other famous song writers and poets.

  24. Nadia Benhouidi says:

    Analysing stylistically Cummings`s poems is one of the most challenging activities for me. I am a linguist and my approach to poetry is primarily linguistic. I In this poem the apparent morphological deviations play an important role in the construction of the overall theme.In any structural unit,such as sentences,clauses or phrases, linguistic items such as verbs, nouns or adjectives should be written in isolation, separated by spaces in writing. In the sixth line,Cummings removes the gaps between the words that constitute the phrase “deaf and dumb” and uses them to form a single word “deafanddumb”. Semantically and morphologically speaking “deafanddumb” can not be considered as a compound. Running more than one word together as if they were one violates the rule that stesses the necessity of indicating the boundaries between words by spacing. Besides,the morphological internal structure of the adjective “beautiful” is fragmented since it is interrupted by a hyphen “beaut-iful”. Cummings divides it not into its morphological constituents that is into free morph “beauti” and bound morph “-ful” but into “beaut” and “iful”. Removing the gaps between the words “deaf”,”and”, and “dumb” reflects thr poet`s eagerness to live in a world where there is no disparity between what people say and what they feel.Modern men`s patiotic discourse is hollow, pointless and hypocritical. The removal of spaces reveals his yearning for real and sincere feelings. Modern man “rushed” hopefully to benefit from all the advantages that American modern society provides but he “did not stop” to perceive the boundaries or the limitation of his hope. The fragmented morphological structure of the adjective “beautiful” communicates the fragmentation of the world, in addition to modern man`s shattered soul and hope.
    Stylistics can help us understand poetry .

  25. Nadia says:

    Yes, America is no longer America, the land of the pilgrims,the oppressed and those who yearn to be free.In America patriotism becomes a blind feeling leading,using Cummings`s odd style,to no significant and worthwhile where. The American soldiers rush like lions to the roaring slaughter, to death and still sing “next to of course god america i love you !!!

    Nadiabenhouidi from Morocco

  26. Holly_sama says:

    This is a very compelling poem, and what I find interesting is that most of the people who have commented here seem to disagree with it. I can’t tell you if I do or not but I can certainly understand where it’s coming from.
    -Holly

  27. tennis_girl192 says:

    Well said, Har har. No generalization can apply entirely to any one group but from I observe the dogma of the left is enforced more completely and rabidly than the Thought Police of Orwell could dream. Some follow our leaders blindly and some do it with their eyes wide open but at least most conservatives, that I’ve met, allow those who will follow to follow and those who won’t to disagree. Criticism is not censure and freedom of speech applies to all opinions, not only those that are “P.C.”

  28. Har har says:

    …but there are two sets of leaders. Truth is, there’s a debate, but the left isn’t part of it. The left, unfortunately, can’t or won’t communicate. They just stand there with their eyes closed, bellowing their doctrine at the rest of us. They don’t listen. They don’t think. If you disagree, if you ask questions, if you think for yourself at all, they throw a fit and scream at you that you’re a “moron” or a “fascist” or whatever. They call you a racist if you believe in God, and they call you a homophobe if you own a gun. Those are perfect non sequiturs, by the way.

    It’s a sort of Stalinism of the mind.

    The “patriots” you hate and fear are questioning their leaders a lot more than you’re questioning yours.

  29. Dr. Constance Chapman says:

    I am embarking on a project which guides students to compare elements and techniques of classical poets with those of hip-hop poets. This poem is a good example of a protest poem which is an element many hip hop poets use.

  30. Doug says:

    Errin, I agree entirely.

  31. Errin says:

    Post September 11th and with the current policies in Iraq, this poem seems just too familar. Patriotism is becoming more and more of a fad, with little or no action behind the flags we wave and the “Support Our Troops” ribbons everywhere. We blindly buy into our leaders’ ideas and call it supporting our soldiers. But “what could be more beautiful than these heroic happy dead?”

  32. annie says:

    which do you think is better and why, this poem or Whitmans song of myself?

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