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Walt Whitman  (1819–1892). Langston Hughes (1902-1967). Bell Ringer: What SOUNDS to you symbolize America? List them with a brief explanation. I Hear America Signing Walt Whitman (1819–1892 ) a) I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,

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Walt whitman 1819 1892

Walt Whitman 


Langston Hughes


Walt whitman 1819 1892

Bell Ringer:

What SOUNDS to you symbolize America? List them with a brief explanation.

Walt whitman 1819 1892

I Hear America Signing

Walt Whitman (1819–1892)

a) I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,

b) Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be

Blithe and strong,

c) The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or


d) The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or

Leaves off work,

e) The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat,

The deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,

f) The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench,

The hatter singing as he stands,

g) The woodcutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the

Morning, or at the noon intermission or at sundown

h) The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife

At work, or of the girl sewing or washing,

i) Each singing what belongs to her, and to none


j) The day what belongs to the day - at night, the party

Of young fellows, robust, friendly,  

Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.

Walt whitman 1819 1892

I, Too, Sing America

Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

a) I, too, sing America.

b) I am the darker brother.

c) They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

d) But I laugh,

And eat well,

And grow strong.

e) Tomorrow,

I’ll be at the table

When company comes.

f) Nobody’ll dare

Say to me,

“Eat in the kitchen,”


g) Besides,

They’ll see how beautiful I am

h) And be ashamed –

i) I, too, am America.

Walt whitman 1819 1892

Consider point of view. In what way does Hughes suggest that race impacts the American experience?

Consider when each poet lived. They lived a difference of nearly 100 years. What social changes / events might have influenced their views of the American experience?

Compare the connotation that each poem uses to define America. What does each poem suggest about the American experience?

In what ways does Whitman use repetition? Consider how this repetition impacts the mood / feel of the poem.

Compare the first and last line of Hughes poem. What might be meant by the difference of “sing” and “am” America?

Walt whitman 1819 1892

Homework: that race impacts the American experience

6. In the form of a thoughtful

poem (at least 8 lines long)

write your song of America.