Throughout the poem, Hughes places contrasting phrases, similar to a paradox, alongside one another. With this technique, he hints at his hopes for a better America unlike the one that is currently taking place around him. Diction is used in the telling of the poem, to establish a dramatic element of dialogue that is felt at times when a different voice jumps in or proclamations are made.
The poem begins with Hughes’ statement ” Let America be America again. Let it be the dream it used to be.. of letting America be the America it once was. Yet, points out that this version of America is nonexistent, rather has lways been a place of slavery, poverty, oppression, lies, and “immigrant clutching the hope” they seek. In the poem, Hughes demonstrates his ideas and examples by using abstract language. The usage of abstract language allows him to give words deeper meaning and transforms them; thus, this allows him to contextualize things and objects in a bigger meaning.
For instance, the term “leeches” is used to demonstrate how political figures and upper-class members metaphorically “suck” cultures vale, meaning they take what was once sacred to one’s cultural tradition and make a trend or profit out of it. As well, ords such as “faith” and “pain” show the emotional feelings individuals of this country are experiencing; how they still continue to have faith,but at the same time do not know what to do at this point anymore. Hughes diction of “pain” conveys how whites treat someone like him, a Negro, and the type of lifestyle people like him live.
Negros” is also an abstract use of language; the term highlights the insults thrown towards the African American culture. Hughes’ wordplay on abstract language engenders the poem to not only take a literal approach but deeper reflection and causes the reader to think. The intention of this is to allow the audience or reader of this poem to interpret it in their own manner because the words could have many different meanings not just a single definition. Discussing a serious topic, Hughes sparks interest in his intended audience by using personification.
Personification allows Hughes to reveal what he thinks of the land and people living on it. He starts of the poem by giving America life. It reads, “Let America be America again”, as if they should leave America alone, and let America be. He also gives human characteristics o other things, for example to Liberty. Liberty is given a human characteristic when the poem reads, “O, let my land be a land where Liberty is crowned with no false patriotic wreath”. In this part he is stating liberty can be crowned and be patriotic, even though we all know liberty is not a an actual figure.
Following similar “call to actions” previously presented in The Revolution Will not be Televised and Let America Be America Again, Saul Williams, writer of The Pledge, believes in a resistance against the American country for all it has done in the names of its people. Williams states, “Not in our name will you invade countries, bomb civilians, kill more children, letting history take its course over the graves of the nameless”. Williams is furious towards the government’s decision in waging against war, alluding to the events that are occurring in Iraq.
Specifically the events that occurred after that fateful attack on the twin towers: President Bush issuing an executive order against ISIS, the seal team killing Osama Bin Laden, and harming many innocent lives in the process of doing so. Through his usage of historical allusion, he underscores the injustices one by our government in the names of its citizens. Its citizens that they must protect, rather than engaging in barbaric actions and putting them in a position of vulnerability and danger.
Williams informs his audience that they must resist corruption and evil doings. He symbolizes that there can no longer be any more deaths in their vain. Their lives are far more important than gallons of oil; a human life should not be devalued over a liquid that pollutes our world. They will not be belittled into less than toxic waste, for they are worth more than that. Furthermore, is determined to make his call to action a reality for the benefits of those who live in this so called “land of the free” country.
Taking on a different approach from The Revolution Will not be Televised, Let America Be America Again, and The Pledge, Walt Whitman conveys his call to action in another direction. Maintaining the overall structure all four poems display, the poem I Hear America Singing, is a joyous reflection of the many working people in America. He delineates all sorts of people and their various jobs as carpenters, masons, boatmen, shoemaker, woodcutter, others, etc. Whitman presents happy nature in their station of life.
He uses such optimistic and joyous words to describe them going about their days, such as “blithe”, “carols”, and “friendly”. The entire poem is a celebration of the many different types of people that make up America and what America is, as well the joy and happiness they find within their daily life. Whitman presents the poem in a joyous and positive tone. Our poet is celebrating the everyday life of an average American as they go about their daily business and responsibilities.
He is showing hat happiness, contentment and personal fulfillment are achievable through one being productive and enjoying his daily work. That this is what built America. Whitman conveys this thought when he states, “The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam”. Therefore, Whitman is showing the reader his attitude toward everyday working Americans as they contribute to society. Moreover, alliteration is located within the poem. A prime example of this is when the poem reads, “The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands. “.
The letter “s” is repeated hroughout the entire line emphasizing the words that start of with an “s”. By using this technique, Whitman further underscores his point of view on America and its people. In the first line of the poem, Whitman states, “I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear. “, which heightens the everyday working lives of average Americans (and their words and actions) to songs, and even carols. He exaggerates to make the point that it is wonderful to see and hear America at work because to him all of this activity is a joyous song, a wonderful carol.
Yet this is not elt by all the poets discussed within this essay. If we recall, Scott-Heron, Hughes, and Williams, make known that America is not a land that is wonderful to see instead is a world they are disgusted to view and be apart of. The contrast between I Hear America Singing, allows the intended audience to envision what America could look like if we answer the calls being discussed in The Revolution Will not be Televised, Let America Be America Again, and The Pledge. All four poems discussed within this essay, promote the envisionment of a better America.
What America should look ike, what it should be, and what we should see going on in our daily lives. Not the media twisting our information causing us to go against one another. Not a land filled with oppression and discrimination against the beautiful people that make up this land intended for the dreamers and those who sought to escape corrupted ruling in their native homeland. America was meant to be the land where its citizens could call home and not be judged for who they are. A country that protects its citizens and does what is in the best interest, putting them out of harm’s way.
Valuing each very one of them with respect and not some number that help feeds their economy. How human life is worth more than a toxic waste, such as oil. They evoke us to fight for what we believe is right and take back what is rightfully ours. Scott-Heron, Hughes, Williams, and Whitman, promote a call to action in transforming America into the land it was meant to be: freedom, peace, dreams, and unity for all through the use of different rhetorical devices; however, each emphasize a certain portion of what monstrosity has been established on what was meant to be the land of the people.