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What is the American dream? It is not just a set of individual goals but the concept that every citizen has an opportunity to achieve success. The poem, “I Hear America Singing,” is a joyous reflection of many working individuals and they work to reach the ultimate American dream. It is a celebration of life and many diverse people that build America, discovering happiness in their everyday life. Walt Whitman depicts an emphatic writing style through the use of powerful figurative language and unique sentence structure to demonstrate productivity and satisfaction in the American lifestyle.
In this particular piece, Whitman stresses the value of the laborers through implementing various literary techniques. A significant poetic device employed in the poem is the controlling metaphor, “I hear America singing.” A metaphor is a figure of speech in which two distinct objects are compared, often through substitution or identification of each other. This metaphor unifies and guides the entire poem by exaggerating the topic right at the beginning to reveal how admirable it is to see and hear America at work. The word “America,” in the first line, represents individual Americans, more specifically, workers. This distinction is crucial as the rest of the poem builds upon this metaphor by offering examples of different individuals in their occupations. In addition, the word “singing” appears eleven times in the eleven lines of free verse. This word is used figuratively to reflect joy and pride in each of the circumstances. It brings all the diverse groups together with their own song, like a universal language. The emphatic writing style is used to express a strong emotion through the emphasis of words and repetition. In this case, the controlling metaphor and the repetition of “singing” exaggerate Whitman’s joy of everyone working toward their common goal, creating a better future. Comment by Diane Van Yuga: Comment by Diane Van Yuga:
Furthermore, Whitman uses a free verse structure rather than using formal poetry rules. Free verse means the poem doesn’t have a specific arrangement or patterns of rhythm and meter. By writing this poem in a free-flowing way, Whitman is able to create fluidity all throughout the entire thing. The structure of this poem is specifically unique because it consists of one stanza that is segmented into 11 different lines. Each segment was formatted similarly as many begin with the word “the,” and contain phrases that either state “as he…” or “on his way to…” Additionally, only one job is mentioned per line in the beginning but, as the poem continues, more were added to each section. The unification and similar sentence format per separate professions produce a singular voice in America. This portrays an emphatic writing style because Whitman expresses his belief in American nationalism through the connection of various professions.
In conclusion, through the use of emphatic structure, Whitman creates the message that everyone has their own “melody” to accomplish their American dream. By concentrating on the political and economic aspects of American lives, the entire country is connected as one unit. Whitman’s focus on the dynamic power of the nation allows readers to acknowledge possible achievements beyond their imagination.
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