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)

33 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. Billy says:

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

  8. 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

  9. 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)

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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 .

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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.”

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. Doug says:

    Errin, I agree entirely.

  19. 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?”

  20. annie says:

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

Leave a Reply to Emily Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by e.e. cummings better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.