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Analysis


Symbolism, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...

Form and Meter

We say that this poem is written in free verse, meaning there's no metrical pattern here. No pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables – though there are some cool metrical moments (check out...

Speaker

The poem is told in the present tense and in first person, and yet its subject and time period could be seen either as slave-owning America or early 20th-century ("Jim Crow era") America. The speak...

Setting

The setting in "I, Too, Sing America" is relatively clear in some ways, and pretty vague in others. For starters, we don't know exactly when this poem is supposed to take place –it could take pla...

Sound Check

Unlike, say, "The Weary Blues," we don't have jazzy rhythms and the catchy rhymes in "I, Too, Sing America." Instead, we've got short, deliberate lines that convey something that sounds a whole lot...

What's Up With the Title?

Well, the title and the first line are the same. So you can refer to our "Line by Line Summary" to get a grip on what that first line is all about – that's a good start. But why make the first li...

Calling Card

Seriously, however, there is a little jab in here at Whitman's famously boisterous ode to American workers ("I Hear America Singing"). It's almost as though the poem is saying, "Hey. I work too. I...

Tough-o-Meter

Even though there are some really heavy issues to deal with in this poem, this poem isn't designed to throw you any curveballs. The language is direct and the setting is clear. Even with a subtle r...

Trivia

Hughes went to Columbia University in New York City for a while, but left after a year because of the racially intolerant environment (source).In 2005, Hughes won the Quill Award for Poetry, which,...

Steaminess Rating

Sorry, guys. Absolutely nothing of prurient (hehe. Big word for "sexual") interest here. This one is safe for the kids and the grandkids.

Allusions

Walt Whitman, "I Hear America Singing" – The reference here is in the title of Hughes's poem. It's a response: "I, too, sing America."
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