E. E. Cummings published "next to of course god america i" in 1926 as part of his poetry collection Is 5, which contained a number of anti-war poems. In keeping with this, the poem satirizes the intense patriotism that many people adopted during World War I. A (very) loosely structured sonnet, the poem features a speaker who feverishly rants about America and war, making a number of patriotic and nationalistic comments that feel hollow. However, it's hard to determine if the speaker says these things sarcastically or if the speaker actually thinks this way. What remains clear is that the poem invites readers to think critically about excessive, unquestioning patriotism.
"next to of course god america i ...
... and so forth
... it we should worry
in every language ...
... gosh by gum
why talk of ...
... the roaring slaughter
they did not ...
... liberty be mute?"
He spoke. And ... glass of water
Select any word below to get its definition in the context of the poem. The words are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem.
Cummings Reads the Poem — Listen to E. E. Cummings himself read "next to of course god america i" in this old recording.
The Life of E. E. — To learn more about E. E. Cummings and his work, check out this brief overview of his life and writing.
Cummings's Paintings — E. E. Cummings was also a skilled painter—see for yourself in this short exploration of his visual art!
Structure and Style — This essay by the poet Paul Muldoon offers up an interesting investigation of Cummings's odd, inimitable style.
The Rebellion of E. E. Cummings — An interesting essay about E. E. Cummings's—and his unorthodox stylistic decisions—published in the magazine of his alma mater, Harvard University.
1"next to of course god america i
2love you land of the pilgrims' and so forth oh
3say can you see by the dawn's early my
4country 'tis of centuries come and go
5and are no more what of it we should worry
6in every language even deafanddumb
7thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
8by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
9why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
10iful than these heroic happy dead
11who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
12they did not stop to think they died instead
13then shall the voice of liberty be mute?"
14He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water