Extra text: I Hear America Singing
By Walt Whitman (18191892)
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.
1 Understanding the poem
a What sort of people is the poem about? Do they have anything in common?
b What is the mood in this poem? Is it happy, optimistic, pessimistic, sad? How can you tell?
The poem was written in the mid-19th century. Which professions do think Whitman would have included if he had been alive today?
Write your own poem. Use Whitman’s poem as a model (your poem doesn’t have to be as long as his). Choose new professions. Here’s how to start:
I hear Norway singing. The different songs I hear.
The … singing as he …
The … singing as she …