“What A Wonderful World”

“What A Wonderful World” (1967) sung by Louis Armstrong and written by songwriters Bob Thiele and George David Weiss depicts the inherent beauty of nature; while simultaneously reminding listeners to not take things for granted as there is so much to be learned through the beauty of the natural world.

Natural word? By natural world the connotation in the literal sense is the unfiltered world, the untouched land that has yet to be ruined by pollution and industrialization. Appreciating the land that quite literally gives us life; aiding us by providing food sources, oxygen, land to destroy, and views to escape to. Both Armstrong and Walt Whitman in the poem “Song of Myself” captures this respectively. More specifically “What A Wonderful World” serves as a gentle attack on readers, calling them out on their ability to take nature for granted and miss out on the beauty that is right in front of them. The intended audience being those with the privilege of experiencing life in a more lavish and industrialized way (in other words everyone who lives in an urban or city area).

One of the most apparent ways Armstrong coveys his message is through the changing tense of his thoughts:

“”I see friends shakin’ hands, sayin’ “How do you do?”

They’re really saying “I love you

This phrase, while staying in the present tense articulates the simplicity and the intimacy of interacting with those around you. People are so wrapped up in their lives, constantly on the go they oftentimes forget the importance of simply being and interacting which relates to disregarding the beauty of the world surrounding you.

”I hear babies cryin’, I watch them grow

They’ll learn much more, than I’ll ever know”.

This phrase which follows the lines from above shifts from present to future. Signifying the want and hope for future generations to admire the inherent beauty around the and learn from the mistakes of older generations.

To further strengthen the message of the piece, the song is sung entirely in the first person. By singing in the first person the intensity of the speaker’s feelings is accurately conveyed to the audience. Using personal pronouns (I, me, we, etc.) and words/phrases that are entirely subjective to the speaker like “I think” and “I see” make the message becomes more personal and it becomes clear that the speaker genuinely believes that nature is inherently beautiful and want to urge others to see the world through their eyes. In addition to the point of view, and the changing tense, the piece uses a free verse structure meaning it’s nonmetrical, with nonrhyming lines that follow the natural rhythms of speech. The use of free verse allows readers to easily understand the piece but also is significant as the simplicity of the words is parallel to the simplicity of nature that is being expressed.

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