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I Hear America Singing

A literary analysis of a Walt Whitman poems

Siu-yee Ching

on 10 June 2013

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Transcript of I Hear America Singing

Literary Devices Word Choice Evidence of Time Period Summary Syntax The subject in each line describes the person's occupation
The verb "singing" is repeatedly used after each subject
The use of possessive pronouns (his, her) to indicate whose song it is
creates a sense of individuality
everyone has their own ideas, worries, and paths
Each line contributes to the overall poem the way that each song influences the whole nation I Hear America Singing "I" : suggests an individual experience, one person observing others carrying out their individual tasks
"singing" &"carols" : imply joy and happiness
"varied carols" : every song is unique; mirrors each person
"delicious" & "melodious" : positive connotation, sensory imagery
"open mouths" : expressing their feelings, being heard, not oppressed; idea of democracy American Spirit
American pride, the nation is prospering
Each is contributing to the nation's success through their hard work
Industrialized Society
"mechanics" & "steamboat"
Gender Roles
Men have jobs outside the home
i.e. mechanic, boatman, wood-cutter, etc.
Women have domestic work to do such as "sewing" & "washing"
exception: "young wife at work" Evidence of the "American spirit"
Although there is no rhyme scheme, literary devices allow the poem to easily flow
anaphora, alliteration, slant rhyme
The power of the individual
Not just hard work, but also celebration
Sense of freedom and ability to speak out By Siu-yee Ching, Katherine Koch, and Brigitte Lamarche I Hear America Singing Overview A great American poet, essayist, and journalist
A poet of the people
Use of common language; not too fancy
symbiotic relationship between the poet and society
The "Father of Free Verse"
No set pattern or rhythm in his poems
Initially, his work caused controversy
"Leaves of Grass" was considered obscene
America's first "Poet of Democracy"
Specialized in epic poetry
"About a hero whose adventures embody the values of a nation" 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 wood-cutter'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. Background on Walt Whitman:1819-1892 Polysyndeton
"I hear"
Slant Rhyme & Exact Rhyme
"the shoemaker singing as hesits"
"hear" & "beam"
"deckhand" & "stands"
"morning" & "washing"
"strong" & "songs" American Culture & Ideals Self-reliance
Everyone tries to make a living by depending on themselves
American Work ethic
The value of hard work
"Celebration of Life"
Singing indicates content
There is a place for everything
"The day what belongs to the day" Transcendental Influence Idea of the Oversoul
All individuals make up The United States of America
Everyone is unique
Each person has their own song
Each person has their own job or line of work
Everyone speaks out, expresses their own ideas
The importance of Nature
The jobs are nature-based
Mason-brick (in the soil); Woodcutter - wood from trees
Full transcript