Comparison of Symbolism in the Poems I Hear America Sing and Dover Beach

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

In this poem, “I Hear America Singing,” the people are given the freedom no matter their job to be able to sing the songs they want and still have an opinion. This poem describes people that make up America today such as carpenters, wives, mothers, shoemakers, and many more. The songs that people sing are loud and strong as they work through situations.

After analyzing this poem, you can see there are many different themes. These include work, a vision of America, and music. When studying the theme, we see that all these jobs that Americans perform are done so they can pay bills. However in the poem, the poet looks at it as a way of life. In this poem, we celebrate the freedom or concept of labor. The people represented in this poem are people who are rarely subjects of any written paper, let alone a poem. We note that having these jobs makes us who we are today.

Examining the next theme, vision in America, one can see that a hard day of work often goes unacknowledged. America’s vision was not created just for lawyers, doctors, and politicians, but was created for mothers, carpenters, and mechanics too.

Finally, we can talk about the most important theme of all, which is music. When we take a look at the title it says, “ I Hear America Singing.” The poet should have written the title with an exclamation mark because when we think of singing we are proud of it. American’s want to share the song of freedom. When Americans sing, it brings them closer together as a community, a world, and a nation.

In lines 1-2 of the poem, it states, “I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong.” As I stated in my thesis statement above, this poem allows all Americans to be free to sing wherever, whatever and whenever they feel like it. Following some research, I found an article that relates back to our discussion of people having freedom to sing when they want to sing no matter where they are. This article says: “ Let the church sing!” Ministers, pastors, youth leaders and many others want to sing loud and strong, just as this poet wrote about in his poem.

The next poem to discuss is “Dover Beach”. In this poem, the setting is a beach that is quiet and peaceful. But there is a catch that is revealed to the couple at the end of the poem. The couple is clinging to each other with love but live in a world of violence and pain. This poem is very interesting because of the form and the meter of the poem. When reviewing the poem, one can see that lines 34-35 are a perfect iambic pentameter.

“Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;”

Not only does this poem have iambic pentameter, but it also has verses which rhyme often. However, the verse does not follow a regular verse nor does it make sense. In Dover Beach, there is a stanza that when read, reveals a vague pattern, but it doesn’t make sense.

“Sophocles long ago

Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought

Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow

Of human misery; we

Find also in the sound a thought,

Hearing it by this distant northern sea.”

Lines 1 and 3 rhyme, 2 and 5 rhyme, and finally 4 and 6 rhyme. As you can see from above you can tell why the poem doesn’t make sense in ABC order. In this poem, there are many themes, however what is confusing is that some of the verses are sad, some happy, and some give hope. The most important theme in this poem is life, existence, and awareness. Dover Beach essentially says either go big or go home. In a short 37 lines, the poem takes you in and allows you to see the human existence.

This poem also has a great deal of symbolism as well as imagery. For example, the sea is a symbol of all existence. At other times, the sea is a visual and then again, the sea acts as a metaphor. Even though the physical Dover Beach is revealed several times over, the poet makes feel the power of the beach. The tide is another use of symbolism. The tide appears repeatedly in the poem but gives the reader the image of eternity. The tide is like a movement that enters and re enters the poem at will. “Eternity to Season” is also similar to Dover Beach, especially then there is the description of the dark water and the tides that rise and fall all the while bracing and hauling eternity in a powerful measure. The powerful tides hint of the reason for being able to see the tide.

Both of these poems offer many things one needs to remember. Remember that in “I Hear America Sing,” you can do whatever you would like to do at your job and sing wherever you would like. When reading “Dover Beach,” remind yourself of the sea and the tide which allow you to see everything inside and out. You may not always be able to see it, but you can picture it in your mind.


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