E. E. Cummings Questions and Answers

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What is the point that E.E Cummings makes in his poem "next to of course god america i"?

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In his poem "next to of course god america i," e. e. cummings satirizes the blind chauvinism that politicians summon from the citizens and soldiers in order to serve their purposes in times of war. This is his point: That patriotism serves only the politicians, not those who die for the country during war times.

--Mocking tone
Always with his use of small letters and unconventional language, cummings manipulates meaning and tears through triteness. His use of such expressions as "and so forth," "what of it," "by jingo," "by gee," "by gosh," "by gum" run together with the apparently mindless recitation of patriotic phrases such as "land of the pilgrims" and words from the national anthem--"oh/say can you see by the dawn's early..."--establish a mocking tone.

Moreover, the insertion of "deafanddumb" directly before the line, "My sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry" insinuates that the patriotic are unheeding of the reality of wars, an idea suggested at the end of the line with verbal slip of the glib speaker who mispronounces "golly" as "gorry." Further, the insertion of American slang reduces what is meant to be a speech arousing the patriotism of the "sons [who] acclaim your [America's] glorious name" to a ridiculous level and mocks the speaker's assumed superiority.

In addition, the use of the word "jingo" alludes to the extreme nationalism of America embraced by President Theodore Roosevelt who vigorously espoused the idea of protecting America's national interests by going to war. Roosevelt acknowledged that Americas are "jingoes" if insisting upon the rights of the United States being respected by foreign countries is "jingoism." So, with the use of this word, Cummings again mocks the blind patriotism that sends into war what will become the "heroic happy dead" (an oxymoron) who "did not stop to think," but rush instead "like lions to the roaring slaughter."

Finally, the politician/speaker himself realizes his words are hypocritical and that if all patriots rush into battle only to die, there will no longer be anyone to summon to the political causes of the country--"then shall the voice of liberty be mute?" And, because he finds this idea metaphorically hard to swallow, he must drink "rapidly a glass of water."

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