Analysis of e e cummings' Poem

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The poem “next to of course god america I” is a satirical poem that indicates the speaker is a patriot but also mocks this passionate love of country. The deliberate absence of punctuation and capitalization allows the reader to take the lead and decide when and where to pause for effect. It also helps to create the irony of the two contrasting themes that are felt throughout the poem. What does the speaker actually intend with his words? It is interesting that he chooses to capitalize the pronoun ‘He’ as if placing the speaker in a place of superiority or distance. He initially appears to glorify America, although this is also confusing as he contradicts this feeling of patriotism with phrases such as ‘and so forth’. His oxymoronic description of the soldiers as ‘heroic happy dead’ also leaves the reader feeling uncertain.

For the most part, the poem focuses on his love for America while expressing his animosity for war. He shows his love for America on the second line saying “love you land of the pilgrims’” but immediately after in the same line Cummings says “and so forth oh”. When the speaker says “and so forth oh”, he seems to minimize the importance of the preceding verse and the reader gets a sense of sarcasm and can start to understand the way the he truly feels about unquestioned American patriotism. He specifically uses those words to show he is displeased, not with America itself, but perhaps the people that actually run the country.

In the third line the writer mimics the first stanza in the national anthem of the United States of America, “The Star Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key. This line, however, in Cumming’s poem is cleverly missing the word “light” after “dawn’s early”. In his subtle way, the ...

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...ll glorifies America.

Work Cited

Roberts, Edgar V., and Henry E. Jacobs. "Chapter 12 Words: The Building Blocks of Poetry "Literature: an Introduction to Reading and Writing. Upper Saddle River, NJ:Pearson/ Prentice Hall, 2008. 507. Print.

"E. E. Cummings." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 10 Feb. 2011.


"E. E. Cummings Biography - Life, Family, Children, Story, Death, Wife, Mother, Book, Old,

Information, Born." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Web. 10 Feb. 2011.


"On "next to of Course God America I"" Welcome to English « Department of English, College

of LAS, University of Illinois. Web. 10 Feb. 2011.

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