Friday poem: I Hear America Singing

11 September 2015

By Walt Whitman

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 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 him or 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.
 
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Walt Whitman is regarded as one of America’s most significant nineteenth century poets. His first collection, Leaves of Grass (1855), celebrated democracy, nature, love and friendship. Here, Whitman celebrates the individuals who contribute to the life and culture of America – the mechanics, the carpenters, the shoemakers, the mothers, and the seamstresses – who all join in the chorus of the nation.