I Hear America Singing

Benjamin Cohen

I Hear America Singing By Walt Whitman


I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,


Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,


The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,


The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,


The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,


The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,


The woodcutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,


The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work,or of the girl sewing or washing,


Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,


The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,


Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

joannapearl

God Bless the USA by joannapearl

Literal

In this poem the speaker talks about people of America singing their song. The speaker first notes the Mechanic, Carpenter, and Mason, each who are singing about their professions. It's speaker than speaks of the Boatman and the Deckhand singing about "what belongs to him" (Whitman 5). The speaker continues, describing the next Americans in detail; shoemaker who has "halter[ed] singing as he stands"(Whitman 6), and the woodcutter who sings "on his way in the morning, or at noon ... or at sundown" (Whitman 7). Speaker moves from jobs to family members, describing the mother, wife, and girl. The Speaker then says that each song is unique to each person and each time. The speaker closes by saying each song is sung with "open mouths" (Whitman 11), and "strong melodious songs" (Whitman 11).

Situation

"I Hear America Singing" is a descriptive poem that does not tell a story. Instead it highlights the key aspects of the industrial age. The speaker of the poem describes America in the 19th century. At this time, America's economy was booming because of the California gold rush, and the Industrial Revolution happening. Factories and industrialization took over America. Patriotism was at an all time high, and the blue collar class had just emerged. This was a time characterized by strength, joy and extreme patriotism. The speaker describes the situation to an extent that the reader can feel the joy and pride the speaker has in America.


The Speaker in the poem radiates this mood because the speaker is an American, living in this time, who believes in the American dream. This speaker is talking directly to America, showing America's power, pride and glee.


The speaker's intended tone is similar to the mood, patriotic and proper. The speaker loves America, and thinks it is perfect. This is seen when the speaker uses words or phrases such as "as it should be" (Whitman 2), "what belongs to him" (Whitman 5), "delicious", "melodious", or "friendly". This poem seems fit to be read in a loud confident way.

Structure

This poem is free form, yet repetitive. The speaker uses similar line structure throughout most of the play. The speaker starts by introducing a blue collar occupation singing, "The carpenter singing" (Whitman 3), "The mason singing" (Whitman 4). The speaker then describes the manor in which the person is singing, or the placement. "...his as he measures his plank or beam / ... his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work" (Whitman 3-4). The speaker uses this machine like repetition because it is a characteristic of the time frame. In the early and mid-nineteenth century, the industrial revolution, the birth of factories, large machinery, and the blue collar workers, was in full effect. By speaking in a mechanic-like way, the speaker is representing the times.


The poem barely develops. The speaker starts by restating the title and introducing the poem. The speaker then moves to telling the reader about each of the songs sung by America. At the end of the poem, the speaker then moves to describing America as a whole.


The poem has one sentence and eleven lines. This sentence is a long, complex, run-on sentence with many phrases. These phrases all have proper subject verb order. The sentences has many commas, separating phrases, list items, and acting as enjambments. This poem is written in a way to seem or read as formal. This is done


The title, "I Hear America Singing", is a reference to the main symbol of the poem, singing and songs represent joy and pride. Throughout the poem the speaker talks about each person's unique song , differing per person, occupation, and even time. The same can be said about joy and pride, each which differ for each condition listed above. The speaker also uses adjectives such as strong to describe the songs, an adjective typically not used for songs, but often used to describe joy or pride.

Language

The word choice in this poem is colloquial and simple.


The only word that was unknown was blithe, meaning happy without worry.


The moods found in this poem are strength, which is associated with the words strong and robust, and joy, which is associated with friendly, melodious, and delicious.

There are no allusions.

The only figurative language used is the extended metaphor used throughout the poem, singing and songs represent joy and pride. Throughout the poem the speaker talks about each person's unique song , differing per person, occupation, and even time. The same can be said about joy and pride, each which differ for each condition listed above. The speaker also uses adjectives such as strong to describe the songs, an adjective typically not used for songs, but often used to describe joy or pride.

Musical Devices

The poem has no rhyme scheme. This achieves an informal effect, similar to the effect given by the language. Additionally, the poem has no meter, giving a similar effect.

The poem has repetition. The speaker uses similar line structure throughout most of the play. The speaker starts by introducing a blue collar occupation singing, "The carpenter singing" (Whitman 3), "The mason singing" (Whitman 4). The speaker then describes the manor in which the person is singing, or the placement. "...his as he measures his plank or beam / ... his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work" (Whitman 3-4). The speaker uses this machine like repetition because it is a characteristic of the time frame. In the early and mid-nineteenth century, the industrial revolution, the birth of factories, large machinery, and the blue collar workers, was in full effect. By speaking in a mechanic-like way, the speaker is representing the times.

Works Cited

"Blithe." Merriam Webster. Merriam Webster, n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.

"I Hear America Singing." Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

Inspired_by_American_Music-jga9ew-d. N.d. Amazonaws. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.

Joanna Pearl. America The Beautiful (Cover by Joanna Pearl). 2013. Youtube. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.

On-10th-Anniversary-Working-America-Sets-50-in-5-Goal_blogpostimage. N.d. Aflcio. Web. 8

Mar. 2015.

Speakambanner. N.d. Gamecola. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.

Take-pride-in-america. N.d. Wordpress. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.

Uncle-sam. N.d. Wordpress. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.