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  • Dr.Pragya Suman

Anaphora and Whitman’s sweeping movements.

Anaphora is a literary device in which a word or group of words is repeated at the beginning of two or more successive clauses or sentences. It is used to give emphasize through repetition. Anaphora gives a dramatic effect and, for a few moments, cages the reader’s attention, so much that when it ends, the reader jumps into the new realm, still pondering the past line, what the poet wanted to say. In formal writing, the academic editors have disapproved of Anaphora, but anaphora is decked with poetic license, to give a powerful rhythm in verse. So it has been used widely since the days of the Bible in literature. I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman is an exemplary of Anaphora

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.

Why does Whitman use anaphora frequently? There could be so many presumptions about it.

Had he an egotism trait in personality?

Poets generally celebrate war, romance, and great events, but Whitman celebrates himself, and through that, he celebrates all. Celebrating all show, a non- dualistic trait that mellows down the notions of egotism

Whitman founded new poetic rules, and the way he wrote free verse and used lengthy lines, he looked a staunch supporter of prose poetry. He showed silent disdain and defiance of the old rules and forms in poetry and society. Whitman used the literary device Anaphora as a tool to show his steadfast attitude towards new ventures–a self-reliant personality who assumes himself to the attributes of his country. Whitman disdained singularity in his work and proclaimed coming after his a remarkable succession of poets; what confidence!

He set models.

He talked about democracy.

He talked about homosexuality.

He talked about soul and flesh, and emphasized that without body, love is not complete,defying platonic love.

He wrote poetry in prose form, with lengthy lines.

He wrote in a self-proclamation tone,

with great confidence.

He says “I have allowed the stress of my poems…to bear upon American individuality and assist it…

It could be a matter of debate about the idea of personality vs egotism, so many presumptions have been formulated about it, but it is sure that he used anaphora because it suits his revolutionary personality. Anaphora acted as an undertow beneath Whitman’s sweeping movements.

Dr. Pragya Suman

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