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next to of course god america i by EE Cummings

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next to of course god america i by EE Cummings

  1. 1.  next to of course god america i  E. E. Cummings Edward Estlin Cummings (1894- 1962) was an American poet, born in Massachusetts, who studied at Harvard University and later travelled within Europe and North Africa throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The title, “next to of course god America i”, shows the order of importance according to the narrator: God, America and Self. This order of importance shows Faith, Patriotism and Self-importance. ‘next to of course god america i’ is a satirical poem (satire is mocking someone or something). He initially appears to glorify America, although this is also ambiguous (has more than one meaning) as he tempers this with phrases such as ‘and so forth’. In many ways one can view this as a very modern poem, with many of the criticisms Cummings levels at his country being as relevant today as they were in the 1920s. It is better to put in mind that the poem has two personas, the patriot and the main speaker. The poem looks like it is delivered by a patriot but was paraphrased by the speaker added with his mockery and own opinions. You should compare this poem with other poems about the same themes: causes of conflict: 'Hawk Roosting', 'The Yellow Palm', 'The Right Word'; patriotism: 'The Charge of the Light Brigade', 'Flag'. The poem of e. e. cummings shows patriotism and also foolishness which are its theme. In the poem, there are two personas, the patriot and the main speaker. The speaker of the poem mocks the patriot by adding words to the patriot’s words. The poem is all about nationalism but also it tells the reader that it is not always wise to be patriotic or heroic and that it is sometimes irrational. The poem also shows America being diverse in culture and language. Also, it talks about war and the innocence of the young, inexperienced soldiers during the battle. And finally, the poem shows the reader that bravery and fearlessness usually lead to stupidity and irrationality.
  2. 2. “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 In the first line, the speaker tells the reader that the patriot loves America next to God more than anything even himself. The absence of punctuation and capitalisation allows the reader to engage with the poem’s ambiguity – what does the speaker actually intend with his words? The second line line shows further textual evidence which shows that the patriot loves and is faithful to America. The ‘land of the pilgrims’ is taken from the patriotic song "My Country 'Tis of Thee“. There is use of enjambment in the first two lines as the first line is grammatically wrong without the second line. Suggests speaker can't be bothered to be specific and makes us doubt his integrity and patriotism. The third line is also the first stanza in the national anthem of the United States of America, “The Star Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key, but this line in Cumming’s poem is missing the word “light” after “dawn’s early”. This connotes that the speaker thinks that the patriot is entirely unoriginal. Also, the reason why “light” is missing to connote that the patriot is talking so fast that some words are missing. The fourth and fifth lines connotes that the patriot is very dramatic but then the speaker mocks the patriot by putting “what of it”. This is very dismissive and undermines his commitment to his country. Every language suggests more than one. The speaker tells the reader that the patriot thinks that America is diverse with different languages and cultures present. In this line, also, it shows the mockery of the speaker upon the patriot by putting “deaf”, “and”, and “dumb” together to connote that the patriot is talking so fast that he mixed the words together. This relates to the soldiers and also to war in the word “gorry” which can be understood to be rooted from the word “gore”. This line also tells the reader that the patriot thinks that these soldiers are “wonderful” and heroic. The speaker used the word “gorry” to replace the more explicit curses. The words “thy son” convey the innocence of the soldiers. This odd line uses euphemisms to convey “innocence” since these words are used by the speaker to replace the more explicit curses and bad words. Alternatively another interpretation is although this American slang sounds like nonsense here and maybe he's trying to show he can relate to ordinary Americans.
  3. 3. 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 These words of the patriot are beautiful for him but for the speaker, this is very sarcastic. This lines pertains to the soldiers being sent to war. These lines also show that these soldiers were mostly young and inexperienced. His oxymoronic and alliterative (use of the letter ‘h’) description of the soldiers as ‘heroic happy dead’ also leaves the reader feeling ambivalent (unsure and hesitant). These words of the patriot are beautiful for him but for the speaker, this is very sarcastic. This line relates to the soldiers being sent to war. These lines also show that these soldiers were mostly young and inexperienced. The use of simile shows the bravery and fearlessness of the soldiers against their enemies in the war. The speaker implies that their bravery is more like foolishness. The patriot may have a good point but the speaker also implies that at first they are heroic on the eleventh line of the poem but they are foolish to further their effort on war. The patriot makes fool of himself in this line. He tried to end his speech dramatically but he IS the “voice of liberty”. He is absolutely NOT mute. The stirring rhetorical question to finish with sounds good but it's confusing. Is he encouraging more people to fight? The ‘glass of water’ could suggest he's nervous or that he has even more garbled words to spout. The first 13 lines are a first person dramatic monologue and the final line is in the third person, as if the poem is presenting someone giving a speech. The 14 regular lines may be meant to deliberately mimic a sonnet layout — the serious form is undermined by the content just as the serious political speech is parodied by the poem's words. The first 13 lines are all within speech marks — the words are fragments of full sentences with very little punctuation, making the phrases sound confusing and meaningless. The last line is the only one that is close to standard English, describing the speaker as he finishes talking. It makes the rest of the poem sound even more empty and meaningless. The last line shows that the poem is conveyed through a second person, the speaker of the poem. It also shows that the patriot was excited with his speech that he exhausted himself and thirstily drank a glass of water. It is interesting that he chooses to capitalise the pronoun ‘He’ as if placing the speaker in a place of superiority or distance.

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