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Walt Whitman: one of the first to utilize free verse

He serves as a prelude to modernist poets such as Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot

  • I Hear America Singing
  • I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
  • Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
  • The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
  • The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
  • The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the
  • steamboat deck,
  • The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
  • The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon
  • intermission or at sundown,
  • The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl
  • sewing or washing,
  • Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
  • The day what belongs to the day — at night the party of young fellows, robust,
  • friendly,
  • Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
  • America
  • Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
  • All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
  • Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
  • Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
  • A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
  • Chair’d in the adamant of Time.
  • For You, O Democracy
  • Come, I will make the continent indissoluble,
  • I will make the most splendid race the sun ever shone upon, 
  • I will make divine magnetic lands, 
  •                    With the love of comrades, 
  •                       With the life-long love of comrades.
  • I will plant companionship thick as trees along all the rivers of America, and along the shores of the great lakes, and all over the prairies, 
  • I will make inseparable cities with their arms about each other’s necks, 
  •                    By the love of comrades, 
  •                       By the manly love of comrades.
  • For you these from me, O Democracy, to serve you ma femme! 
  • For you, for you I am trilling these songs.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was one of the premier poets of American verse, and one of the most influential poets in both American and world literature. One of the first poets to utilize free verse – poetry that employs neither a strict rhyme scheme nor a strict metrical or stanza pattern – Whitman serves as a prelude to modernist poets such as Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot. Whitman collected his poems in a single volume, Leaves of Grass, which celebrates humanity in all its forms and occupations, and also sang the praises of the unique contributions which American democracy and republicanism have made to human freedom and human dignity.

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