If Walt Whitman was to write "I Hear America Singing" today, what do you think he would write?

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This poem was first published in 1860, when America was certainly a place fraught with discord and injustice. The American Civil War would begin just one year later, and slavery was still legal in the America that existed in 1860. In other words, that America, the one Whitman heard singing,...

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This poem was first published in 1860, when America was certainly a place fraught with discord and injustice. The American Civil War would begin just one year later, and slavery was still legal in the America that existed in 1860. In other words, that America, the one Whitman heard singing, was imperfect and problematic and full of contradictions, just as many would argue the America of today, in 2018, is. Despite this, he could still see the ways in which America was beautiful, and he represented that within the poem. Therefore, I think that Whitman—were he writing the poem today—would retain the positive, optimistic mood of the poem. He would have to diversify the kinds of worker he discusses; there are lots of kinds of jobs that did not exist then that do now. Also, Whitman assumes that mechanics and carpenters and masons and boatmen, etc, are men, and such an assumption would no longer be appropriate in the 21st century, where men and women often perform the same jobs. In order to be accurate, he would have to represent both men and women performing various roles.

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In his poem, Whitman goes through and lists many different types of people at work, singing their songs happily.  This is a representation of how he felt that America was a beautiful place, and how each laborer was beautiful and happy in their jobs, and the singing is representative of their unique contributions, voices and talents that add to the general state of the country.

In his poem, Whitman lists professions that are heavily oriented towards manual labor (carpenters, mechanics, boatmen, shoemakers, hatters, ploughboys); if he were to write it today, he might want to diversify some other types of labor that have come through the specialization of trades, and the advent of technology.  There are so many more professions today, so he could greatly expand his list of trades to write about.  Another thing to consider is the nation's atmosphere, and whether Whitman would feel the same awe and wonder at its working people.  Do we express such happiness and contentment in life?  Or are people in America today more disgruntled and cynical?  Could Whitman ask the average worker, "Are you happy with what you do every day?" and get an answer that would fit the spirit of his poem?  That is an important facet to consider.

There are many different answers to this question; considering the advancement of trades, and America's changing attitudes are two important dimensions to consider.  Good luck!

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