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I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman

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        The poem I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman has many similarities to its follow up poem I, Too by Langston Hughes in regards to how they address a common topic, structure and tone. Although these poems come from different time periods, they give varying opinions on the American dream, racism and slavery.  Both poems utilize various structure, tone and images to show similarities and differences in two visions of America.

        In I Hear America Singing the structure of the poem is written in one stanza showing unity. The poem I, Too is broken up into many lines and stanzas showing disunity in the poem.  I Hear America Singing is connected with commas, I, Too is broken up with different punctuation. These contrasting structures show how one vision supports unity in a nation and the other view displays a broken nation. The poems also differ in their tone with one tone being Joyous and idealistic; the response poem is more realistic in its tone about society. The poems also differ in their vision of America where Walt Whitman feels that there is a place for everyone in society and everybody has a Job to sing their “varied carols” suggesting a generally happy society. Langston Hughes differs his poem but suggesting that an entire group of people are being left out of this ideal vision of America and being pushed into a “kitchen to eat” where the situation of racial segregation and slavery is being held out of view. The poem I Hear America Singing stays in a single idealistic tone, in contrast to the poem I, Too that undergoes a tone change when it talks about the present and future. The change goes from passionate and anger to optimistic showing that there is change is expected in the future. The poem I Hear America Singing stays in the idealistic tone suggesting that it does not wish nor expect change from what is being described. The two poems share similar vocabulary because the response shows the same ideas of strength but uses it in a different light to show that the strength of a group is matched to the strength of one individual being suppressed. The forms and meanings of each poem both serve to show difference in the two but still relate to each other in a common theme.



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