Poetry and Poetic Elements; “I Hear America Singing”

Poetry is a way for people to express themselves to the society. The poems usually have an intended audience which ranges from specific group of people to an open audience which does not discriminate members.  Poetry is a strong tool of communication and artistic expression of feelings by people (Hirsch, 2007). The theme of a poem is usually supported by the poetic elements put in by the poets. The poem highlights the fact that people from all walks of life in America are working and it makes them happy. The poem, “I hear America Singing,” by Walt Whitman is a poem about the joy and happiness in American people.

This poem has made use of Repetition in making the poem sound joyful which is in line with the theme (Poetry Foundation, n.d.). The Repetition is created by the similarity of the first words in most of the lines throughout the poem. It makes the poem sound easy to memorize and easy to the ears when recited. This is an important poetic element. It is important to note that people can always refer to lines in a poet depending on their memorability often created by Repetition just like in the poem, “I hear America Singing.” “The mason singing…, The boatman singing…, The shoe maker singing…,” (Whitman, n.d.).

The poem has consonance as a poetic element where there is consonant sounds being repeated within a line (Poetry Foundation, n.d.). It is important to note that in poetry, such a repetition is important in enhancing the musicality of the poem. In this case, the consonance supports the theme of joy and happiness because it makes the poem easy to read and recite. It is interesting to hear similar sounds as the audience receives the poem. For instance; “The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank,” (Whitman, n.d.). This is a good example of consonance in the poem. It is part of the elements in a poem that helps in creating a rhythm and memorability.

The third poetic element in the poem is a variation of the couplet (Poetry Foundation, n.d.). Being an element that recognizes the repeated lines that are of the same length in a poem, it is applicable to the poem, “I hear America Singing.” It has been made evident in this poem where sections of the lines rhyme and are almost similar in length as well. “The carpenter singing as he…, The shoemaker singing as he…, The hatter singing as he…,” such lines are classified as couplets in a poem because of the evident rhyme they create (Whitman, n.d.). In this case these lines support the theme intended by the poet of expressing the joy he feels the people of America have in their work. The couplets help in enhancing the musicality of a poem as it should.

To conclude, poetic elements in the poem, “I hear America singing,” are connected by the theme which they all support in different ways. The poem being about songs is made musical by the consonance, couplets and repetition created by the arrangement of words by the poet. It is also important to understand the poem so that the poetic elements make sense to the individual analysing it. Poetry is an art as in this case has been well used to express the state of America through the persona’s eyes. The poem may not summarize adequately the feeling and status of all people but those within the environment of the persona.


Hirsch, E. (2007, November 27). How to Read a Poem. Retrieved from Poets: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/how-read-poem-0

Poetry Foundation. (n.d.). Glossary of Poetic Terms. Retrieved from Poetry Foundation: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms?page=5

Whitman, W. (n.d.). I Hear America Singing. Retrieved from Poetry Foundation: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46480/i-hear-america-singing

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