Walt Whitman Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

Why Does Walt Whitman Use The Word Singing In The Title "i Hear America Singing"?

"I Hear America Singing" by Walt Whitman

What key word is repeated by the speaker? What is the effect of the repetition?

Expert Answers info

Bruce Bergman eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Professor

calendarEducator since 2011

write3,640 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Business

Another way to read the effect of the repitition of the word "singing" is as a "democratizing effect". By associating various types of people with the same musical quality, Whitman suggests that all these types of people (or all people, generally) are possessed of the same essential beauty, musicality, and soul.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

booboosmoosh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2003

write4,119 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The word I notice repeated most often is "singing," which ties in with Whitman's title, "I Hear America Singing."

The sense that all people sing has the effect of joining diverse groups together with song in common. It is, after all, a universal language.

I believe the use of repetition does three things in this poem: it shows that people from all walks of life sing their own song—it is a part of them and it shows a sense of pleasure in what they do or in their circumstances, in general.

The repetition may also create a rhythmic sense of movement, as the songs move back and forth between so many different kinds of people.

Of course, repetition is also used by an writer to stress something especially important to him or her:  it must be singing.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write35,413 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Social Sciences

There are a couple words I think are key.  They are "singing" and "I."

I think "singing" is probably the one you want.  To me, the repetition makes it sound something like the chorus of a song.  This adds to the idea of America singing.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

epollock | Student

"Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else" (line 9)

The word singing produces an individual effect and also a harmonious effect--no pun intended. The word helps to bring everyone together into a world that Whitman knew everyone should be and could do quite well, even if they sand their own song.