The sonnet “next to of course god America I” by E.E. Cummings is a unique approach to structure and syntax. That becomes central to the poem as there is an apparent lack of punctuation and accepted sentence structure. E.E. Cummings was known for his strangeness that sought to disrupt conventions and mock the mob mentality. That seems to be the main purpose of the poem, to highlight the aspects of patriotism.
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Throughout the text, there is an open mockery of common clichés. Cummings does not capitalize “god” or “America” despite the strict cultural convention to do so. The poem in itself is a discussion of the meaning of patriotism. Common clichés are often meaningless, especially to the “heroic happy dead” (oxymoron), which dedicate their lives to protecting the country.
While at first, it seems that the narrator is saying the words, in the end, it is revealed that they are being said to him. It is speculated that the author chose to include this element as a way of distancing his persona from the controversy while still passing on the disputable opinions of the poem. The poet manipulates syntax by combining words or changing them to maintain rhyme. Individual lines are structured to match the iambic pentameter. It feels like the poem is a giant metaphor filled with elements of symbolism.
The violation of grammar rules and standard poem structure, to the point of confusion for the reader, may imply the author’s perspective of highlighting the complexity of what it truly means to be an American patriot.