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. 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.

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