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
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, meaning and summary of Walt Whitman's poem I Hear America Singing.


  1. wade says:

    It was great until he brought up women…That totally killed it..nuff said

  2. Jordan says:

    I am doing a Term Paper on Whitman and 2 poems by him! O Captain My Captain and I Hear America Singing! They are such great poems! He is really amazing with his works!!

  3. Alexander says:

    I would like to comment that i view this poem as a symbol of American nationalism. It seems to me that Whitman is using singing as a symbol of the sounds that working creates, turning the sounds of industry into music. But at the same time he is portraying a happy world. It’s obviusly about the American Dream, but it is also about finding joy in your work. The main issue i have with the poem is within the two sentences: “The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat – the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck.” Life was not so rosy being a worker in America. Sure it is nice now after the workers got a lot more rights, but this was written while Capitalism was in it’s prime. Being a worker was not that nice, the life of a worker was not far from what we would regard as hell. While Whitman being the posetive American would write something like this, the british writer Charles Dickens shows the negativity of the time. While the age of enlightenment was supposed to bring great prosperity and joy to the workers (read: The American Dream) working conditions did not really improve that much. If you were born poor in Britain you died poor, the same held true for America, except here you had a small chance at becoming rich. Even though a chance is better then no chance the overly posetive poem clearly showcases the ambivolence of the time. People did not just want to think they were in a time where everyone was important, they wanted to believe it. Personally i hate Nationalism. If you look at earlier societies like Germany and Italy you can see what it leads to. Fascism follows Nationalism and Fascism can be regarded as distilled Nationalism in my opinion.
    A nationalistic attitude is nothing to be proud of, it only leads to racism. As a last note i would like to mention that even if the American Dream offered a second chance to a lot of people, we don’t even have to dig deeper then the slaves to understand that not everyone had such a great life.

  4. sarah says:

    No one mentioned Hughes’ poem is an allusion to Whitman’s. Does anyone study allusion anymore?

  5. nicole says:

    the poem was great

  6. nicole says:

    this poem was really cool it is one of the best poems i have read the poet is really cool and the dude who wrot emooooooo is emoooooooooooooo

  7. Danielle says:

    that was a pretty good poem, i didnt like the rhyme scheme to it but i did like the meaning that the whole world is singing and needs to be joyous for what we do have, for some have nothing.

  8. ashley griffin says:

    luv it

  9. Desiree says:

    This poem is clearly about achieving the American dream. Everyone is working from nothing to become something. They are singing in unison. They are all happy about playing their part to build up america. In Langston’s hughes I, Too he includes himself and represents for the black community as well. I believe that whitman wasn’t trying to make racism an issue. He was just commenting on the American dream.

  10. liz says:

    this poem by whitman is such an awesome poem i did a biography on this amazing man and thereis so much more to him he is such an astonishing writer and person

  11. Ben Donello says:

    i think that this is a great poem.
    the end

  12. c says:

    “he founded a “free soil” newspaper, the “Brooklyn Freeman”. / “returns to Brooklyn and edits The Brooklyn Freeman.” / “He resigned from his position in 1848 because his stand against slavery was too strong for the paper’s owners.”

    That would imply that he’s against slavery. Please, do some research before you form an opinion on a topic you don’t know anything about.

    To me, this poem is Whitman’s idea of what America should be: everyone is content with the life they have. No matter what class the people are of, they do not wish to have more, nor do they flaunt off what they have. The “singing” is just a way to say that the people’s spirits are high. “Singing with open mouths” means they are proud to say that they are content with their lives whether they be carpenters or woodcutters.

  13. Scott says:

    First of all I must say VERY WELL SAID GARRETT!!! (Comment No. 42) because I have noticed there are a few illiterate commenters on here, who obviously have no love for the art of poetry and must read poetry only in order to pass a course. So in closing, if you do not understand the concept of poetry and have no skills of analysing properly, please keep your negativity to yourself and read content that is at your level.

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