I Hear America Singing Walt Whitman English Literature Essay

The poem is a symbol of American nationalism. Whiteman is using singing as a symbol the sounds that working creates, therefore turning the sounds of industry into music. The poem is a joyous reflection of the many working people in America and how they are going about their day, strong, happy, healthy and good at their jobs. The theme of the poem is productivity or happiness in one’s station in life. The author describes all sorts of people on their jobs carpenters, mechanics, masons, boatmen, shoemaker, woodcutter, mothers, wives and young men. Each picture he represents of these people is their “blithe” and happy nature of their station of life. He uses optimistic words “blithe”, “carols”, “strong”, “delicious”, “robust” and “friendly”. The entire poem is a celebration of life, a celebration of many different types of people that make up what America is and how they find happiness in their everyday. Walt Whitman life experiences inspired him to write the poem. He lived in the 19th century and in his poem he talks of the activities which were going on and how the people reacted to them. He was both a carpenter and a farmer and therefore having witnessed life on a farm followed by city life he gathered the societal experiences and attitudes which he wrote about in the book.

The major poetic device employed in the poem is its controlling metaphor. A metaphor is a figure of speech in which one thing is substituted for or used to identify another. This controlling metaphor has impacts, controls and unifies the entire poem. The expression “I hear America singing” substitutes “America” for “America people”. The effect of the metaphor is to identify the two as well as the people who are depicted by the poem. This distinction although is subtle is very important because the rest of the poem builds on this metaphor by offering examples of the sorts of persons the speaker thinks quintessentially “American”. “Singing”, “song” and “carols” also serve as metaphors in the poem. “The verified carols” that the speaker hears suggest the uniqueness of the person singing them and they also become metaphors for individuality.

The author has used personification. This is a figurative speech in which an inanimate object or abstraction is given human qualities or abilities. For example America is just a name of the country so it can’t sing but the poet say “America sings” and again America is not a living thing. The poet has also used a lot of symbolism. For example when he expresses his awe at these Americans singing, he is making a statement about human greatness by telling the reader that human achievement is not is not measured by what one does, but instead by how one goes about doing it he inspires admiration for these people not by setting outright that he thinks they do great things but by giving brief ,specific images of each one tending to his or her own business and combining their individual jobs with ” singing” which we usually associate with cheerfulness and lightness of sprit. I can say that the poem affects me because it gives the ideas of how people go around with their day to day business just like the way I also do by daily activities. It remind me of how some of my work mates are so happy or frustrated especially when chatting with friends during work as they share some of the problematic and good aspects of the work environment. I will incorporate what I have learnt from the poem which is cheerful spirit when working and also active participation at work. The poem has also inspired me to relax after the hard days work. This is because according to the poem the independence that all of these different types display in their work is left aside at the end of the day, when they come as a “party of young fellows”.

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