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Whitman’s picture in "I Hear America Singing" of average people singing their "varied carols" was more than just a metaphor. It reflected a pre-mass-media culture in which Americans often entertained themselves and each other. Whitman’s spouting Shakespeare atop omnibuses, declaiming Homer and Ossian at the seashore, and humming arias on the street typified these performances in everyday life. His poetry tried to keep alive this participatory, dialogic spirit.