Walt Whitman

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In "I Hear America Singing," why does the speaker name so many types of workers?

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In this very simple poem, Whitman proclaims that he hears "America singing." He proceeds then to briefly describe the individual songs of everyday workers as they go about their daily business. Each of them has an individual song that concerns their respective work. However, to Whitman, each is a song of America. While all of the songs are different on the surface, each create a harmony similar to the order of the natural world that is seen in so many of Whitman's poems. The poem is a unique take on Whitman's typical sentiment for naturalism. America in this sense is like a natural environment—each worker in their place, creating the unison that is America.

Whitman names so many types of workers because he believes these workers to be the true face or, in this case, the voice of America. Often times in the world we picture nations to have a single face or "type" that defines the nationality. However, Whitman finds that the beauty of America is in its diversity, much the same as a natural landscape. Even the leisure time of revelry that follows the day's work has its place in the song. Whitman finds that the true beauty of America is in scenes of the perfectly ordinary.

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