Analysis of the Four Sections of Walt Whitman’s Poem I Hear America Singing, an Ode to American Nation

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

“I Hear America Singing”, one of Whitman’s most famous songs, is an ode to American nation. I think it can be broken down into four sections.

The first line is the beginning part, which is a center sentence of the poem and from which we know that the poet may dwell on various carols.

The second section starts from line 2 to line 6, which states the situation that people from various fields sing. The following section includes only line 8, which specifically indicates of the songs belonging to females. The last three lines make up the last section, concluding the gist of the poem that the poem is an ode to every American person and every individual is special.

The speaker tells the story from the first person. It’s like the speaker is talking to his audience face to face. The poem deploys the first narration to strengthen the relationship between the speaker and the audience. The speaker only states the fact that people of different professions are singing during their work or on the way to work, but doesn’t say too much about how he feels. The implication of “I” narration can bring the audience into the speaker’s mind and imagine the scene by themselves.

The diction of the poem is simple and direct. Throughout the whole poem, there is not a single new word. There are only names of occupations such as “carpenter” (line 3) and “woodcutter”(line 7). Reading the poem is as if chatting with an acquaintance and talking about things happening in the neighborhood. It is just depicting the familiar life as if we are staying at home and hearing our mother singing while washing the dishes.

The tone of the poem is mirthful and sanguine. The poem draws a cheerful picture of people singing happily in different places. Carpenter or boatman, outdoors or indoors, everyone is happy with their work and even females are satisfied with the housework no matter how trivial it is. The last line “Singing with open mouths” clearly shows their joy because it’s an act one is likely to do when they are happy. In addition, most of the adjective words in the poems such as “fellow, robust, friendly” in line 10 are commendatory.

The literary devices are parallelism and metaphor. When the speaker tells about the singing of various kinds of people, the sentences are lined in parallel. For instance, line 3, 4 and 6 employs the structure of “the+ (the name of profession) +as…”. Metaphor is the most important literary device in the poem. The title itself is a metaphor. “America singing” is actually “American people singing”. People from the listed fields refer to people in all walks of life while “the mother, the young wife and the girl” refer to the females at each age group or all the females in another word.

Personally, the poem eulogizes the optimism of common people, who are from working-class and shows us the happy lives in America. The main purpose is to promote an important American spirit or belief, individualism. In line 9 “Each singing what belongs to her, and to none else” illustrates that every single person is unique and what they possess is independent of any other people. More importantly, the poem conveys another unique American spirit of “from rags to riches with hard work”. Since the foundation of the country, it’s believed that every individual can start from scratches only if he or she is diligent enough. I believe the reason that the poet chooses the examples of working-class people also shows the world that each one is entitled to live a happy life no matter what he or she does.


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