Let’s not confuse the title of this poem with a political slogan, shall we? This is about the poem “I Hear America Singing”, written by Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892). It’s an entirely different poem or title than the political slogan “Make America great again.” But, what is the poem of Whitman about?
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Whitman and his writing style
What if Walt Whitman would have known that we would still write about him today? Especially about his writing style. Nowadays fully accepted, back when he lived reason to question him as a poet.
Whitman wrote in the free verse form. It’s an open form of poetry that is derived from the French vers libre, a form of poetry known for its flexibility, complexity and naturalness. After this style became more and more popular, even poets outside of France started writing this kind of poetry. Whitman was one of them.
“I hear America singing” is based on the sounds he hears. In some poems that are based on free verse sound play an important role. Especially the way the sentences or words should be pronounced.
About “I Hear America Singing”
The poet was inspired by the different people that lived in his country. The most important thought is that it doesn’t matter who sings. Cultural classes aren’t that important or shouldn’t be. But he notices that every cultural class has its song.
It doesn’t matter to Whitman who sings. All social classes combined are one big song, America singing. Or rather, Americans singing. Music was of importance to Whitman. In this case, it can provide a band for all kinds of people.
At the risk of becoming giving a political statement: isn’t it time (again) for people to start listening to the different songs in one nation? I am not only referring to the United States. Also in other countries, people are forgetting about what forms the basis of a nation. This isn’t all the cause of just one group. Many countries were formed at a time when different people moved there. Yes, in some cases this led to certain negativity. But it also led to good things.
Whitman believed that poetry was the strongest way to share feelings. Instead of the word “sing”, you can use the word “write.” In this case, it’s all about the American identity. But one can easily replace any reference to the United States with some other country. In this article, I will (of course) use the poem as written down by Whitman, the original one. You decide if you want to turn this poem.
I Hear America Singing
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.
— Walt Whitman