America Singing

Grades 7-8 | Analysis | Source-Based
Source Lexile®: NP | Learning Standards




Langston Hughes cited Walt Whitman as one of his greatest influences, and some believe that Hughes wrote "I, Too, Sing America" in response to Whitman's "I Hear America Singing." Using textual evidence from both poems to support your answer, describe how Hughes's poem builds on Whitman's poem. Consider aspects such as structure, theme, word choice, etc., as you craft your response.



Source 1

"I Hear America Singing"

by Walt Whitman


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


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.



Source 2

"I, Too, Sing America"

by Langston Hughes


I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

But I laugh,

And eat well,

And grow strong.


I'll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody'll dare

Say to me,

"Eat in the kitchen,"



They'll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.