Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs
Walt Whitman was born on Long Island in New York, in 1819. He was the second of nine children. His family moved to Brooklyn, New York, in 1823. After only six years of school, Whitman became a printer’s apprentice. After two years in his apprenticeship, he worked in a number of print shops in New York City. He also began working as a journalist, and he wrote political speeches. In 1840, he worked on the presidential campaign of Martin Van Buren and began working as a newspaper editor. While working on the Crescent newspaper in New Orleans, Whitman witnessed slave auctions and saw first-hand what slavery was like. These events strengthened his commitment to human rights and moved him to begin writing poetry.
In the 1840s, Whitman published a number of short stories and a novel. He published the first edition of his poetry collection Leaves of Grass in 1855, paying for it himself. This edition contained 12 poems. A second edition was published a year later with 20 additional poems. It also included a letter of congratulations from the writer Ralph Waldo Emerson. Many of Whitman’s poems described the experiences of the common people. For example, he liked to write about families and workers who had moved from the farm to the city. This was common experience at the time.
During the Civil War, one of Whitman’s brothers, George, was a soldier. When George was wounded in a Virginia battle in 1862, Whitman traveled to Washington, D.C. to see him. His brother was fine, but after spending time in his brother’s camp, Whitman was deeply moved. He stayed on in Washington, working as a clerk for the U.S. government and visiting wounded soldiers in hospitals around the city.
He was an admirer of Abraham Lincoln, and he wrote a number of poems in response to Lincoln’s assassination in 1865.
After the Civil War, Whitman remained in Washington, D.C. By 1881, Leaves of Grass had been published seven times. Whitman had become a very famous poet. He bought a home in Camden, New Jersey, where he died in 1892.
Student’s Name: ___________________________________________________________ Teacher: ____________________________Date:_________________________________ Multiple choice questions: I Hear America Singing and Walt Whitman
CIRCLE YOUR ANSWER
Which sentence tells the main idea of “I Hear America Singing”?
In America, it is important to have a good job.
Americans love to sing.
All different kinds of people come together to make America what it is.
Young people like to have parties at night.
Read the lines from “”I Hear America Singing.”
“The day what belongs to the day-At night, the party of young fellows, robust, friendly, /Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.”
What does the word robust mean?
full of health
What type of point of view is used in “I Hear America Singing”?
no point of view
What is most likely the poet’s purpose for writing “I Hear America Singing”?
to persuade people to find jobs in America
to inform the reader about different kinds of jobs in America