poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this Poem 

This version of “I Hear America Singing” appeared in the 1867 edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. The original version appeared as number 20 in the section titled Chants Democratic in the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass.

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
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.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

Born on May 31, 1819, Walt Whitman is the author of Leaves of Grass and, along with Emily Dickinson, is considered one of the architects of a uniquely American poetic voice. 

by this poet


When I read the book, the biography famous,
And is this then (said I) what the author calls a man’s life?
And so will some one when I am dead and gone write my life?
(As if any man really knew aught my life,
Why even I myself I often think know little or nothing of my real         life,

On the beach at night alone,	 
As the old mother sways her to and fro, singing her husky song,	
As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universes, and of the future.	 
A vast similitude interlocks all,	 
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets	

To think of time—of all that retrospection!   
To think of to-day, and the ages continued henceforward!   
Have you guess'd you yourself would not continue?   
Have you dreaded these earth-beetles?   
Have you fear'd the future would be nothing to you?
Is to-day nothing? Is the beginningless