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America’s Own Choir of Individuals

Uploaded by emsmith225 on Oct 05, 2004

Walt Whitman helped shape American poetry through his various works. In “I Hear America Singing,” he glorified the average working man in his “Ideal Democracy.” In the introduction to Leaves of Grass, Whitman expressed his belief in the common man and woman (Napierkowski 157). Whitman used many different themes to get his point across, and these themes shaped his work. The theme of common people in the American democracy sets the tone and wording, and contributes to the overall message of “I Hear America Singing.”
Whitman’s tone of the piece includes three main topics: individuals speaking for themselves, the common man and woman, and patriotism. In the speaker’s view, American culture involves the song “sung” by each unique individual (Napierkowski 153). “I Hear America Singing” also shows Whitman’s strong belief that the common man and woman are important in American society (Napierkowski 151); therefore, in his eyes the working class deserves just as much credit as the wealthy (Napierkowski 155). Marie Napierkowski believes that “Whitman’s poem elevates the common working-class American to an image of near perfection” (155). The theme of intense patriotism in America and its greatness is shown in the poem’s first line (Napierkowski 151). The tone in the poem, now set up by Whitman, leads into the way the poem is worded.
Whitman uses wording in “I Hear America Singing” to show the people speaking are common and have their own individual words and characteristics. One phrase repeated throughout the poem, “I hear,” represents a different person’s song each time it is stated. This phrase also shows the importance of the speaker and his or her individuality (Napierkowski 152). Each person represented in the poem is defined by their occupation, but they sing and express their individuality and uniqueness (Napierkowski 153). Marie Napierkowski says the individual characters are “singing what belongs to him or her and to no one else” (151). After the characters sing their own songs, they come together and form one enormous choir. This choir represents America and her people’s uniqueness (Napierkowski 151). The message of “I Hear America Singing” is shown through this choir.
Throughout the poem, Whitman describes America in many ways including what he thinks America should represent and his beliefs about America. America is the entire group of the unique American individuals’ voices (Napierkowski 152). “I...

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Uploaded by:   emsmith225

Date:   10/05/2004

Category:   Poetry

Length:   5 pages (1,156 words)

Views:   2196

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