Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Happy Birthday, America's Wordsmith

Walt Whitman, arguably America's most influential and innovative poet - and a dang Yankee from back east, like myself - was born on this day, May 31, in 1819.

"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 work;

The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat - the deckhands 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.

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