How is the song "We shall overcome" similar to a poem?? this was used in the civil rights movement. also, if you can find any melody/rhythm in it, let me kno! :) thanks!

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A very common technique in poetry is alliteration: the repetition of initial consonant sounds (for example, "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers" repeats the "p" sound at the the beginning of most of its words).

"We Shall Overcome" contains many cases of alliteration.  For example:

a) "deep in my heart I do believe";

b) "We'll walk...";

c) "wide world."


Another common technique in poetry is imagery: the use of "word-pictures" to represent ideas and emotions.  A poet would not usually write, "Relax and enjoy yourself"; rather, he might say, "Kick off your shoes and relax your socks" (see second link below).

Although "We Shall Overcome" is not particularly rich in imagery, it does contain some.  Some examples are:

a) "We'll walk hand in hand" (meaning, we'll work and live together);

b) "The whole wide world around."



Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In general, any song can be considered similar to a poem.  The song bears many similarities to a poem.  The idea of repetition in order to enhance meaning is seen in the refrain of "We Shall Overcome."  Additionally, this is seen in other verses such as, "We shall walk hand in hand" and "We are not afraid."  The idea of poems containing a theme or overall message is also seen in the song, as the message is hopeful triumph in the face of adversity.  The song's structure is in a stanza- like form, consisting of three lines in each stanza.  The rhythm of the song is also fairly constant, setting a consistent meter and cadence to the song.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team