Alluding to Another Text

Sometimes writers allude to one another’s writings. The allusion itself may not be just one word or even a single sentence. The entire piece of writing can refer to another complete piece of writing. Read the poem below by Walt Whitman. On your graphic organizer, write a brief summary of what you think Whitman is trying to get across to the reader. Graphic Organizer Instructions

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 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.

Check Your Understanding

Sample Response

In the poem, “I Hear America Singing,” workers in America from slaves to boatmen sing to represent pride in their hard work. Each worker has a different song to sing, or a different purpose in his work, but the songs come together in harmony to represent the prosperity of America.


Watch this video about the poem.

Source: I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman, Dustin Rowland, YouTube

Read the poem “I, Too” by Langston Hughes. See if you recognize any similarities to Whitman’s poem.

On your graphic organizer, explain how Hughes’ poem alludes to Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing.”

Check Your Understanding

Sample Response:

In his poem, Langston Hughes alludes to Whitman’s poem about singing songs that celebrate all Americans in their work and in their leisure. However, Hughes begins by adding himself to Whitman’s list of “singers.” Then he tells us who he is, “the darker brother,” and of his current situation—the fact that he cannot sit at a dining table with white men and women. He continues by saying in the future, that will change—he will be welcomed at anyone’s table. Hughes adds at the end of his poem that he also hopes to no longer just sing about America, but to be a part of America at last.