Here are some efforts from my English 11 students, using Whitman and, in one case, Hughes as models.
I see America singing, the varied carols I see,
Those of teenagers, each one singing theirs as it should be emotional and strong,
The attention seeking, singing hers as she spreads another rumor,
The athlete singing his as his final season comes to an unfortunate end,
The alcoholic college kids singing what appears to be a jumbled mess as they attend another party,
The quiet one singing as she sits at home, more outgoing behind a screen than ever before,
The spoiled one’s song, bragging morning, noon, and night even though she’s home alone again,
The irritated singing of a student, hard at work, trying to meet the high expectations set,
Each singing what belongs to them and no one else,
The day what belongs to the day- at night the wandering thoughts of those trying to find themselves,
Singing with open minds their strong melodious songs.
I am. American
The younger generation
I sit at a smaller table
for I am not old enough
I stay quiet
but I know
because I am American
my time will come
I’ll be one of them
I am the generation
I choose to make a stand
the time is now
no more waiting
Change has come
and I am one of them
I hear America singing, the variety of music in my ears,
Those of doctors, each one proud of the work they’ve done, as it should be they are one of the most respected,
The phones ringing as people spend hours watching their phones,
The minimum wage workers crying as they make ready for their paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle,
The people of Facebook quickly turning into the Tweeters of Twitter,
The teenagers spreading their talk of swag and basic white girls in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The rich and poor giving and spending what they don’t have, living a life pretending to be what they are not.
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The days go by one at a time- at night the party of teens, friends, and family.
I hear America singing.
I hear America’s voice, the diverse chorus of injustice,
That of the mechanic, whose face stains with oil, and whose song sings of a sorrowful tone,
The carpenter, whose song is bound by rules and regulations,
The construction worker, singing of long unforgiving hours and a back thats seen the stresses of manual labor,
The marine, whose family sings a song for their return,
The fisherman, who fights the waves of anguish, whose tone is a rugged one,
The factory worker, the resonance of their voices crying of change,
The worker of retail, whose feet sing songs of distress and ache for relief,
The farmer whose song starts at dawn, and whose days are constant, and whose nights are restless,
The single mother, whose song sings of welfare and worry,
I too hear the songs, songs that hope for a better tomorrow and whose singing is vastly ignored,
So we shall sing louder, we will be heard, we will sing the song of change, and for a better future for all,
Our songs need to be heard.
I hear America dreaming, the diverse thoughts I hear,
those of tech-knows, each dreaming his new devices,
the dancer dreaming about her breathtaking number,
the teacher dreaming his future lessons,
the farmer dreaming what he loves, the farmhand dreaming of crops and livestock,
the chef dreaming her upcoming restaurant,
the actuary dreaming of various calculations,
the librarian dreaming books on books on books,
the nurse dreaming for a cure,
the teenager dreaming freedom.
Each dreaming what should or one day could be theirs.
Dreaming with open minds and full hearts.