Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing,” and Claude McKay’s “America” Poems Analysis

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The poems I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman and America by Claude McKay express a love for America, but they have different perspectives on life in America. Whitman’s poem has an upbeat and positive tone, focusing on everyday people in America. In contrast, McKay’s poem has a dark and negative tone, revealing the harsh realities of American life. Both poets use literary devices to convey their views. Whitman uses repetition and optimistic words, portraying America as a beautiful song with many opportunities. McKay uses similes, irony, and negative words, suggesting that America is a cultured hell with bitterness, hate, and sinking feelings. Overall, the poems present a similar view of America, but they use different tones and literary tools to do so.

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In Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing,” and Claude McKay’s “America” the poets present a similar view of America, but they do so in a very different manor. While both show a love for America and focus on life in America, that is where their similarities end. Whitman’s view of America is up-beat and positive, focusing on the life of everyday people in America. McKay’s view of America is much more negative, and reveals the dark side of the American life.

Each used various literary tools to portray their view of America. Whitman and McKay both write about an America which they love. Whitman’s use of the words , “carols” and “melodious” show his portrayal of America as a beautiful song. These words are used by Whitman to show the lovable qualities of America. McKay writes, “I will confess I love this cultured hell that tests my youth”. Although the love is quite different, McKay also shows how he loves America.

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These poems are all about the love that the authors posses for America Whitman used repetition of words and phrases and his word choice portrayed a seemingly optimistic way of life in America. Using words like “singing,” “partying,” and “strong melodious songs” all have a positive air about them, which helps develop the writer’s perspective of America. The numerous occupations named in the poem additionally give a sense of appreciation for the possibilities in America, and gratitude for the ability to work and support a family, and in a sense, accomplish the American dream.

McKay’s use of similes, irony, use of rhyme, and repetition of sounds all create a dark tone for America. Words like “bitterness,” hate,” and “sinking” give readers an idea of how McKay feels about life in America, but it is bittersweet, as he still loves the way it is. Throughout the poem, McKay leads readers to believe that he is leading towards a positive conclusion, only to be left realizing that there is no optimistic end for America.

In conclusion, Whitman and McKay both love America, however they have very different opinions of how life in America is. Both authors create a unique tone in their poems. Whitman portrays America in a happy and optimistic tone, while McKay does so with an extremely negative and dark tone. Both poets use literary tools which contributed to the poems unique styles. Although they do so in a completely different way, Walt Whitman’s, “I Hear America Singing” and Claude McKay’s, “America” present a similar view of the life in America.

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Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing,” and Claude McKay’s “America” Poems Analysis. (2016, Dec 07). Retrieved from


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