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From the bland, empty affirmation of religious belief in the first line, through the piling up of stock patriotic phrases rendered meaningless by being pulled out of context (and syntactical wholeness), culminating in the string of idiotic interjections in lines 7 and 8, Cummings’ssense of the ridiculousness of the rhetoric and the meretriciousness of the orator is all but palpable. In lines 9–12, the speech maker plays a particularly nasty kind of moral trump card, manipulating the sacrifices of the war dead to close off debate, followed by the reflexive and hypocritical lip service to liberty in line 13. He is saying, in effect: We honor our heroes for their defense of our freedoms, but anyone who exercises those freedoms to dissent from my views is unpatrioticorworse. And then the entire speech is neatly deflated by the poem’s final line.
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