Langston Hughes

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Compare and contrast two poems: "I Hear America Singing" by Walt Whitman, and "I Too Sing America" by Langston Hughes.

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In "I, Too," Langston Hughes is obviously in conversation with the earlier poem, Walt Whitman's "I Hear America Singing." Both poems explore the idea of American identity -- who and what is an American? What characterizes the people of this nation? The two poets, however, reach somewhat different conclusions in response to these questions.

Whitman is known as the quintessential American poet, in part due to poems like this one. Whitman's "Song of Myself" positions the individual at the center, and the individual (at least Whitman as the individual) is a multi-faceted, inclusive being. In "I Hear...

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“I Too Sing America” by Langston Hughes, is a response to Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing”. Although the poems share a similar theme, the tone and audience in each poem differs. Whitman’s poem has a jovial tone as he express the greatness and accomplishments of America. The tone in Langston’s poem is also embedded with optimism but towards a goal rather than an achievement. The last stanza in Whitman’s poem reads,

“Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.”

In response, the first stanza in Langston’s poem is, “I, too, sing America” and ends with “I, too, am America”.

Both men express their gratefulness and optimism of working towards the American Dream, but from two perspectives