Poem of the Week: I Hear America Singing

We went to the National Presidents Day Choral Festival at the Kennedy Center this past Monday where world renowned conductor and composer André Thomas of Florida State University led a festival chorus of six high school choral groups from around the country in performances of Howard Hanson’s Song of Democracy and John Rutter’s Gloria, along with selections of his own compositions. Todd Nichols joined as guest conductor to perform Celebration Overture by Paul Creston and  Elegy for a Young American by Ronald LoPresti with the highly acclaimed Eastern Wind Symphony of New Jersey.
Thanks to Manassas Chorale’s accompanist Jon Laird’s family for providing us tickets and good company and to his sister Cindy for driving us to the Kennedy Center and back in her new Honda. It was an pleasant afternoon all around.
One of André Thomas’ original compositions was what promised to be a setting of Walt Whitman’s poem, “I Sing of America.” The song was original and stirring but only used the first half line of Whitman’s poem:  “ I hear America singing.” Both the English majors present at the concert wished Thomas would have used the whole poem, which more or less sings itself. Anyhow, for all the English majors out there, here is Whitman’s original poem.  In its entirety.
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 deckhand
     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 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 him or 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.
Also, English majors, lovers of great literature and readers of all sorts will want to take the opportunity to meet Woodbridge author Nancy Kyme at the 2012 Camp & Summer Fun Expo Saturday, February 25 from 10 AM until 4 PM and Sunday, February 26, 2012 from 11 AM until 4 PM, presented by Washington Parents magazine at the Dulles Town Center, 21100 Dulles Town Circle,  Dulles, VA 20166-2400. 
Nancy published her memoir, Memory Lake,  of her experiences at summer camp on Lake Michigan and a reunion years later at the camp years later. Published in 2011, the book has received considerable favorable notice. A review on Amazon.com called it “a luminous non-fiction work, destined to become a classic…” a , “finely measured, clearly remembered and richly imagined” tale of camp and coming-of-age. Take this opportunity to come out and meet this outstanding local author!

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