Comparison of the Poems ‘I Hear America Singing” by Whitman and “I, Too” by Hughes Analytical Essay

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

One major role of poems is that they deliver emotion or an idea in a glamorous language. Poems paint images of the poet’s adorations and feelings about an idea, an object or even a concept. Sometimes, the feelings of poets can contrast modestly presenting ideological variation while on other occasions; the poets can come to a consensus about an idea, concept or object. In this connection, Langston Hughes in his poem ‘I Too’ is noticeably in partial agreement with Walt Whitman’s earlier poem ‘I Hear America Singing.’ Both poems prospect the idea of American placing and identity, who is an American and what is their characterization? However, the two poets somewhat reach divergent conclusions while responding to the two questions (Gibson, 1970).

Whitman stands in the American chronicle as a quintessential, multi-fated and inclusive poet witnessed in some of his poems such as ‘Song of Myself.’ In ‘I hear America Singing,’ he refers to a stretched range of workers including the mason, the carpenter, the wood-cutter, the ploughboy, the deck man, and the boatman, not neglecting gender presentation. In line 9, Whitman presumes that the workers ‘singing what belongs to them’ proclaim their identification with their roles (Whitman, 1991). Even more interestingly, Whitman briefly demonstrates that ‘the party of young fellows’ after work incorporates powerful melodious songs as he too bequeaths long descriptive particulars that subsume both genders and professions.

Hughes however, aspires to designate one flaw in Whitman’s excellent vision of America. He commences by saying ‘I too sing America,’ an immediate, measurable implication to Whitman’s poem. As Hughes’ poem blossoms, he chronicles himself as ‘the darker brother’ (Hughes, 1970)). In claiming the voice of this arbitrary and self-branded character, Hughes submits that this chunk of the American population was neglected in Whitman’s vision. Hughes’ speaker seems not to believe that he was represented in the address in ‘I Hear America Singing’ and feels to stand tall and speak by himself. The speaker pronounces about being sent ‘to eat in the kitchen,’ a semblance of racial segregation which Whitman entirely circumvent.

Hughes’ speaker apprehends his contemporaneous oppressions but purpose to overcome it subsequently. He envisages not the contemporary, as Whitman does, but a convalescent future in which none will dare tell him ‘Eat in the kitchen’ (Hughes, 1970). The speaker further asserts that he may not be the only one to be ashamed but also the oppressors once they will notice how he blossoms amidst oppression. In the last line of the poem, Hughes slightly revises the articulation of the opening line that ‘I too, am America.’ This painless alteration of the word sing, dilate Hughes vision to a more comprehensive perception, one that more dynamically propounds his identity as an American.

Stylistically, Hughes poem is discernibly inconsistent to Whitman’s. The poem ‘I Too’ has short lines that are devoured in a staccato style, There are additional pauses and starts, and its rhyme is swifter. Hughes’ speaker’s perspective is, perhaps, as enthusiastic and aspiring as Whitman’s but prevails more realistic and is presented in fewer words. This stylistic choice reflects the opus of the poem in that the speaker is never sanctioned the liberty to sing and speak as Whitman’s speaker does.

While both poems ruminate on America’s identity, various historical ambiance and varying characteristics of identity particularly race lead to different proposals in defining who an American is. Whitman’s view is broad while Hughes is more definite, Hughes suggests that even with this comprehensive view, Whitman’s vision is lean. The most apparent difference in the two poems is the controversy between Hughes sense of exclusion and isolation and Whitman’s comprehensive sense of inclusivity. While Hughes piece depicts a condition where subsequent future will provide for broader inclusion when none dares tell him ‘Eat in the kitchen,’ Hughes’ requisite commentary pertains to current exclusion. The speaker depicts social blueprint of discrimination and social divide (Gibson, 1970).

Whitman’s poem, conceivably, portrays same America. However, his approach and objective are somewhat contrasting to that of Hughes as presented in the poem ‘I Too.’ Whitman apprehends the distinction between different types of people, observing that the voices he perceives are all echoing what belongs to her or him while the poem’s ethos is that of social cohesion and inclusion. For Whitman, despite the variability, America stands as a solitary tapestry. There is no acrimony in Whitman’s poem as opposed to Hughes’; instead; there is an energized cuddling motion that can be perceived as joy.

Hughes’ poem apprehends humor but only in an ironic manner. Most coherently, Hughes celebrates beauty only that the central endeavor is not to portray that beauty as it is for Whitman’s poem (Gibson, 1970). Centrally, Hughes’ effort is to express the emotive results of the disparity including resentment, frustration, and bitterness, even as he contemplates improvement and proliferated respect in the future. In summary, the two authors use their literary headway to present two opposing common views in the society amidst agreements and ideological discordancy.

Work Cited

  1. Gibson, Donald B. ‘The Good Black Poet and the Good Gray Poet: The Poetry of Hughes and Whitman.’ Langston Hughes: Black Genius. Ed. Thurman B. O’Daniel. New York: William Morrow & Co 80 (1971): 43-56.
  2. Hughes, Langston. ‘I, too, sing America.’ The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes 46 (1970).
  3. Whitman, Walt, and Lisa Tracy. I hear America singing. Philomel Books, 1991.

Cite this paper

Comparison of the Poems ‘I Hear America Singing” by Whitman and “I, Too” by Hughes Analytical Essay. (2021, Apr 22). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/comparison-of-the-poems-i-hear-america-singing-by-whitman-and-i-too-by-hughes/



How does Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman's view of the American Dream differ?
Langston Hughes viewed the American Dream as unattainable for African Americans due to systemic racism and inequality, while Walt Whitman believed in the possibility of the American Dream for all individuals regardless of their background or race.
How is Whitman and Hughes similar?
Both Whitman and Hughes were great American poets. They both wrote about their experiences and observations of American life and culture.
Which explains how Langston Hughes's I, Too, Sing America alludes to Walt Whitman's I Hear America Singing?
another well-known text, person, event, or thing. Which explains how Langston Hughes's "I, Too, Sing America" alludes to Walt Whitman's "I Hear America Singing"? Hughes's poem uses Whitman's idea that all Americans are important members of this country's society.
We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out