Settling Into Stanzas: Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing” on Mount Royal high above Frisco
August 18, 2016
"I Hear America Singing"
— Walt Whitman, 1819-1892
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
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The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off
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.
Walt Whitman's "I Hear America Singing" encapsulates much of what it means to be American.
He published the poem during American's greatest period of insecurity — the Civil War. Americans asked each other what it meant to be American. The response: Gettysburg, Antietam and Chancellorsville.
"I Hear America Singing" lies in stark contrast to the carnage of the Civil War. Not only is the poem beautifully written, it captures the positive aspect of America's most iconic values.
Industry. From mechanic to mother, each character in the poem is working. None are toiling as if in some Dickensian debtor's prison. In fact — interpreted literally — each is singing while they work.
Freedom. All of the characters are performing a variety of tasks, singing a variety of songs. Implied is the freedom to choose one's own path, to be one's own person, to sing one's own song, "blithe and strong…with open mouths."
Liberty. Each song "belongs to him or her and to none else." Mr. Whitman explicitly describes each song as melodious, but not necessarily harmonious. Americans are capable of coming together, joining in song and accomplishing great feats, but never at the expense of individual liberty.
Mount Royal system in Frisco
Feel free to sing your own song while hiking the Mount Royal trail system.
Located immediately south of downtown Frisco, the Mount Royal area offers a variety of hikes for a variety of hiking abilities. Short, scenic hikes to Rainbow Lake and Masontown accompany longer, more challenging hikes to Mount Royal, Mount Victoria and Peak One.
Trails in the Mount Royal area are accessible form three trailheads: Miner's Creek, Second Avenue and Mount Royal/Masontown.
The Mount Royal trailhead offers the most parking. It is also the easiest to access from Interstate 70. To get there from the interstate, take Exit 201 east towards Frisco and then cross under I-70. The parking lot is immediately on the right.
Before you begin the hike, take a picture of the trail map provided at the trailhead. You will appreciate this reference later if you decide to adventure away from the main trail.
Mount Royal/Masontown Trail No. 1 begins by following the paved Tenmile Canyon recpath towards Breckenridge. About half-mile down the path, a sign marks the turn southward towards Mount Royal. If you miss the sign, you will eventually make it to the Second Avenue trailhead, where you can still access the Mount Royal/Masontown trail.
Upon departing the recreation path, you will begin gently climbing through a lodgepole pine forest. After a mile, you might begin to notice the remnants of Masontown: brick building foundations, metal equipment and wooden mine supports.
You might also notice a sign for Masontown Trail No. 9077. This trail leads back down to the Rainbow Lake area and the east side of Frisco.
Masontown is a good place to stop and decide how much further you'd like to continue hiking. Beyond Masontown, the slope of the trail up to Mount Royal increases noticeably. The trail is short at less than 2 miles, but the vertical gain can make it challenging.
On July 3 and July 4, Frisco hosts a variety of Independence Day activities: a fishing derby, pancake breakfast, parade and fireworks. If you would prefer to spend time in town, Masontown is a good place to turn around and head back down into town.
On the other hand, if you prefer to earn your pancake breakfast, continue onward up the trail. Another mile of climbing will bring you to the panoramic summit of Mount Royal.
Those who want to earn a second helping of pancakes should continue past Mount Royal up to Peak One. The turn for Peak One is just below the summit of Mount Royal.
As you celebrate Independence Day, consider exploring the trails around Mount Royal with Whitman, one of America's greatest poets.
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