Analysis of I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman

Analysis of I Hear America Singing
Analysis of I Hear America Singing

Analysis of I Hear America Singing

Analysis of I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman. Commentary on “I Hear America Singing” Which arguments does Whitman use for America? What does Whitman think about ordinary people?

The emergence of the poem that comes up in the first chapter of Leaves of Grass coincides with the economic growth before the great depression in America. Its tone is highly patriotic but in a different way from its contemporaries of which is known conventionally. Because there is no visible hint on political issues including racial and religious ones. And despite the lack of all these political issues, it brings us a perfect harmony of a nation. But somehow the questions which are brought by the poem crystallizes the place of the proletariat in the daily life of America

I Hear America Singing Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900

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 the 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 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.

Analysis of I Hear America Singing

Of course, for any poems that are not the angle we used to look through and know well so far. In fact, it sounds a bit difficult to analyze it properly. Therefore, it will be wise to remember shortly the social and artistic background at the very time of the poem in order to unravel the meaning behind the words.

First of all, America is then at the pinnacle of its economic growth, and by extension social life began to heal up itself especially in terms of visual arts and musical forms. This improvement can be seen in the poem by means of provided inspiration.

How about reading Utopia Analysis? So, follow Thomas More’s Utopia Analysis.

What does Whitman think about ordinary people?

Secondly, Whitman uses his arguments wittily. There are many figures from every walk of the working class. He deliberately avoids mentioning the upper class in the poem.  Most importantly, he believes that the miracle that reinforces the constitution of America can not be found in the minority who leads the country but comes from the majority within the ordinary people. This was pretty romantic but a powerful notion.

Whitman says “but the genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges or churches or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors … but always most in the common people” 1 That explains how the poem appeals to musical industries and became favorable to the whole nation.

Above all, the figures in the poem remind us of the figure of Willy Loman in the death of Salesman by written Arthur Miller. he writes in his essay “It is time, I think, that we who are without kings took up this bright thread of our history and followed it to the only place it can possibly lead in our time–the heart and spirit of the average man.”2  So, the common man and woman, like “Willy Loman”3, in the poem is the most endearing quality makes the poem a roaring success in the view of Americans.

The Triumph of The Ordinary People

Analysis of I Hear America Singing
Analysis of I Hear America Singing

Finally, The members of the working class are likened to the members of an orchestra. This happens like in an opera in which every individual has a special instrument and plays a different melody, but in this variety of tune. Thus, a more harmonious piece of art emerges in the whole. In the poem Whitman also underlining that this harmony depends on the strength and tenacity of the working class. In addition, the words “robust/blithe and strong” are simply a testament to that desired effect.

Consequently, in the last couplet his arguments, the triumph of the ordinary people, are corroborated by the joyfulness of the new generations and thus creates a poem as he wrote “The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem”4 by making the ordinary people the True Heroes Of America, not the kings, inventors or writers. Thus, I think the reverence what these unforgettable lines deserved is quite understandable in this regard.

Would you like to read another commentary on I Hear America Singing? So, I advise you to read this article by Kresh, David

1. “Preface to Leaves of Grass” in 1855 Walt Whitman
2. “Tragedy and the Common man” Arthur Miller in 1949
3. The character in The death of Salesman whose writer is Arthur Miller. He sacrifices himself for the betterment of his family
4. The preface to Leaves of Grass in 1855 Walt Whitman

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