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 speaker once again ridicules the idea of blind patriotism. Instead of this famous stanza from our national anthem demonstrating an obvious use of patriotism, it is quickly wiped away by the skillful deletion of the word “light”. One could also look into the significance of the speaker choosing to remove “light” from the stanza as if he wanted to imply a deeper meaning to this as well.
The next thing the writer says is “country ‘tis of centuries come and go and are no more what of it” further emphasizes his lack of interest and sarcasm. This line shows that the patriot is very dramatic but then the speaker mocks the patriot by putting “what of it”. Again this alludes to the detest of what E.E. Cummings truly thinks about so called patriotism. The writer also says the words “come and go” mean that things don’t really ever change; therefore America will by no means ever change and will always have the same problems.
The speaker then emphasizes the mixture of cultures in America and how diverse the people are because of the different languages. He even includes the handicapped people with the lines “we should worry in every language even deaf and dumb”. The speaker tells the reader that the patriot thinks that America is...