Patriotism

Brian Docherty: On "next to of course god america i"

‘next to of course god america i’ is a satire on both the cliché-spouting patriot and the gullibility of his audience. cummings includes most of the clichés politicians mouth at election time, and his point is that while anyone who dared to criticise any of these concepts would be labelled un-American and a commie subversive, it is politicians like this who have muted the voice of liberty. His general attitude to politicians is expressed succinctly in ‘a politician is an arse upon’, a two-line epigram m the best classical tradition.

From Docherty, Brian, "e.e. cummings." In American Poetry: The Modernist Ideal. Ed. Clive Bloom and Brian Docherty. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995. Ó 1995 The Editorial Board Lumiere (Cooperative Press) Ltd.

Richard S. Kennedy: On "next to of course god america i"

[The poem contains] a new satirical device...namely the use of allusive quotations or fragments of quotations, a technique that he learned from T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.  But unlike Eliot or Pound he does not employ this technique for general cultural criticism, rather, he aims to produce real laughter by ridiculing his subjects.  In [this poem], carefully worked out in sonnet form, he pillories a Fourth-of-July speechmaker by choosing patriotic and religious cliches common to platform oratory and compressing fragments of them together in order to demonstrate by this jumble the meaningless emptiness that these appeals have....

from Richard S. Kennedy, E. E. Cummings Revisited (New York: Twayne, 1994): 71.