Patriotism is a hefty feeling of devotion towards a country. The poem, "Next to of course God America", written by E.E Cummings accurately reckons with this feeling and describes desires geared towards a country, in this case, America by a person that exhibits a glut of chauvinism.
Time immemorial, this abstract feeling has formed a chunk of a citizen’s responsibility to his country, especially, during the time of war or non-violent hardships. When it comes to this, a thin line stands between patriotism and spirituality.
A country’s fanatic devotion to religion enables them to request for God’s intercession in trying times. It further exacerbates the nationalism of a people towards their country. There is no doubt that America, “God’s own country”, is fueled from similar activities.
In this poem, E. E Cummings ameliorates the war conditions faced by American soldiers by evoking the spirits of patriotism, therein placing before us, a convincing disposition for the common American.
E. E Cummings (1894 -1962)
Edward Estlin Cummings, born in 1894 at Cambridge, Massachusetts is an American poet who, so dearly believed in seizing an unconventional attitude towards writing. He attended the Latin school of Cambridge and got accustomed to creating a distinct style of using his words.
In 1917 he partook in World War One, finding himself fastened to an ambulance on the France-German border. Later on, he got drafted into the United States Army and trained in a camp located in Massachusetts for six months. This part of his history unsurprisingly shaped his patriotism further insulting him to write his poem, Next to of course God America.
After a succession of life-changing events —/which surround marriage and birthing a child — in the 1920s, he focused on his writings and published a number of fictional works and poems. He was also an infamous satirist who attacked societal thought process and restrictions on expressions. These works drew negative and positive attention its way.
Cummings was also a critical love poet stimulated by his first wife, of which he wrote most of his best erotic poems. Additionally, he was also known for his play, "Him" a tragedy and grotesque comedy.
As a staunch pacifist and democrat, he wrote a diary, documenting his visit to the Soviet Union, its gross dictatorship and the devastating treatment of the people. The diary was published and titled Eimi.
Cummings died in 1962 with an outrageous list of accomplishments, a unique writing style clamped to him, and a legacy that would be remembered till the end of time.
By virtue of birth, an individual gains access to rights offered by his innate country. But, who is an unpatriotic citizen? Cummings’ Next to of course God America highlights the feelings of a patriotic fellow whose ordeals are linked with spirituality and war. The themes are simple. War, patriotism, and spirituality.
In war, the urgency to flaunt jingoistic ambitions becomes a thing of paramount. As they are being exhibited, the conventional addition of God is acknowledged, sparring a link between the three themes. The poem is a message to God, likewise citizens. It tells God to listen to the cries of Americans, whilst coaxing Americans to support the soldiers in all and sundry.
Regardless, the fourteen lined poem begins with “Next to of course god America”, an elucidation of the proximity that exists between God and America, thereby highlighting the essence of an already spiritual country. The persona goes on with, “i / love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth”. “Love”, as used in the poem is a strong connotation of an affectionate display.
He further goes on to worry about America's activeness in wars; "…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 deaf and dumb". He avers the urgency of such matters when he says requests for it to be spread in every language, including deaf and dumb.
The struggle of fighting for freedom is also eloquently stated in the seventh and eighth lines where he writes, “thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry / by jingo by gosh by gum”. “By gorry” is a testament to all bloody battles; that is, the inescapable blood bath that is escorted by war. “By jingo”, an abridged form of jingoism signifies the patriotism of war soldiers as they put their lives on the line for a victorious America.
Since the soldiers are a thing of beauty, he doesn’t fail to appraise their worth; "what could be more beaut / iful than this heroic happy dead." That these soldiers are categorically carved with the perception of American jingoism. He goes on to compare the valor of soldiers “who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter” irrespective of the dire consequence.
Cummings finishes up with the affirmation that strips liberty of its silence owing to the efforts of the soldiers. Following the appraisal of bravery, he asks; “then shall the voice of liberty be mute? / He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water”. Telling us that silence is not an answer, that liberty must be protected and nothing can obstruct it.
Patriotism is a prominent feature riled within a citizen of any nation. It gives hope for a better future and stands as the backbone of loyalty. Next to of course God America is a congruent poem that speaks a language well known within the terrains of America.
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