Thursday, 10 January 2013

next to of course god America i

'next to of course god America I' is a poem by E.E Cummings and it focuses upon the negative points of patriotism. 

The Structure

This poem is written in Petrarchan  sonnet which is the rhyme scheme ABABCDCDEDEFEF. The only difference between traditional Petrarchan sonnet and this poem is the last 6 lines which are different (EFGFEG instead of EDEFEF). This draws attention to the last 6 lines and the darker message it proposes. Also the poem is very lacking in punctuation which makes the poem rapidly flow out which I think represents that although the message of what was said is important, it has been said before and nothing has changed.

The Language

Cummings uses language in a variety of ways to portray his ideas and themes. Similes feature in this poem and provide one of the most thought-provoking lines in the poem - 'who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter'. This line creates an image of a brave soldier, a lion-like figure - patriotic, fearless, proud. And yet this image is no less than rushing to its death which makes you think how stupid this loss of life is. Furthermore, these soldiers aren't just dying any death; they are being slaughtered.

Cummings also uses a list of slang terms used by American soldiers - 'by gorry by jingo by gee by gosh by gum'. 'By jingo'  is the sense of being overly patriotic and by using it it is sort of mocking it. Also he uses references to patriotic American songs such as Star Spangled Banner and My Country tis of Thee but these references are cut short of complete lines which suggests insincerity.

The Ideas and Themes

The main ideas and themes in this poem are that of anti-patriotism. This is shown throughout by the language and structure features I have pointed out above. Also a theme is one of freedom and liberty as in the 14th line it says 'then shall the voice of liberty be mute?' This suggests that liberty should be fought for but do we really think that this war is achieving it?

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