Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Birthday, America

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 the 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 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.

--Walt Whitman, I Hear America Singing, Leaves of Grass


  1. Anonymous5:25 AM

    Thanks very much for posting this, PBW. It's good to be reminded that "America" isn't some single entity...America is each one of us--her citizens--singing our "varied carols". America is all of those songs, and would be diminished if all the melodies were exactly the same.

    Have a happy 4th of July!

  2. Happy birthday, America.

  3. Thanks, PB, absolutely pitch perfect. I used to have an English professor who loved Whitman. She used to say that he was her ideal man . . . except gay . . . and, you know, dead.

    But there’s nobody quite as American as him.

    You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
    But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
    And filter and fibre your blood.

    Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
    Missing me one place search another,
    I stop somewhere waiting for you...


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