by Patty Brown, Western H.S.
Students will analyze and evaluate how Walt Whitman celebrates the seemingly ordinary aspects of America and Americans through the reading of "I Hear America Singing" and "Song of Myself". Groups post their findings on the class blogspace and then conduct an image search in order to produce a slideshow presentation showcasing American landscapes, lives, and ideals worthy of praise. Individuals will write their own celebration poem and recite it during an in-class poetry cafe event.
A major theme in Walt Whitman's poetry is the celebration of American optimism, vitality, landscape, and cultural diversity. As you read "I Hear America Singing" and "Song of Myself," you will hear Whitman singing the praises of these aspects of our lives that are often taken for granted.
As you read his poetry, you may be pleased to discover it's lack of formality and structure. No scanning the lines and determining metere and rhyme scheme today!
Pay attention to the language and how it makes you feel when you read it.
How does Whitman's use of the language effectively praise the everyday unsung beauty of American life?
Who and what do you believe is worthy of praise today?