Chelsea’s Image Gloss

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“Where triphammers crash….where the press is whirling its cylinders” (60)

Triphammer: a massive power hammer having a head that is tripped and allowed to fall by cam or lever action (Merriam-Webster)

See how a triphammer works…




Triphammers were often powered by a water wheel and are known to have been used as early as 20 AD in China. They were used widely for blacksmithing until the Industrial Revolution.  At that time, triphammers fell out of favor and were replaced with something referred to as simply, the power hammer (  As the Industrial Revolution occurred prior to Whitman writing “Song of Myself”, it is interesting that he writes of this older technology instead of proclaiming, “Where the power hammers…”  This perhaps shows Whitman’s attention to all things going into and coming out of “revolutions” or any other change that America goes through.  Earlier in the poem he writes, “I am afoot with my vision,” (59) and Whitman is afoot with his vision everywhere, even where technology is not yet advanced, or where people are not yet advanced.


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