Comparing and Contrasting Walt Whitman's "I Hear America Singing" and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Possibilities".

Essay by paradisexbabe13High School, 10th gradeA-, April 2004

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In "Possibilities" and "I Hear America Singing", Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Walt Whitman have different views on the presence or the lack of poets in life. Longfellow states that he cannot find where all of the great poets hove gone, while Whitman shows that every person in America "sings" in their own way, of what belongs to them. Longfellow basically questions where the amazing poets are, those who are of "Olympian heights". On the other hand, Whitman finds that everyone is a poet; the "mechanic, carpenter, mason, boatman, deckhand, shoemaker, hatter, wood-cutter, plowboy, mother, wife, and girl" are all poets. As Longfellow reminisces of times past when poets were searching for new topics and ideas to write about, Whitman observes how everyone "sings with open mouths to their strong melodious songs". Longfellow writes this poem in hopes for new poets and new concepts of poetry in the future. In contrast, everyone in America is singing passionately right now, as said by Whitman.

According to Longfellow, people presently are afraid to be themselves, weak and fearful of what they could write. Whitman conversely perceives how everyone is themselves already, how every person "sings what belongs to him or her and to none else." A conclusive statement would be to say that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow finds that poetry is written by commoners, and sees "possibilities" of innovative poets coming through in the future, somewhat equaling the prestige of previous poets in the past, while Walt Whitman realizes that today, everyone is their own poet, being themselves and writing about what belongs to them.