Walt Whitman

(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892 / New York / United States)

A Child Said, What Is The Grass?

Poem by Walt Whitman

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it
is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe
of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow
zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the
same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and
from offspring taken soon out of their mother's laps,
And here you are the mother's laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old
mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men
and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring
taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and
children?

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
luckier.


Comments about A Child Said, What Is The Grass? by Walt Whitman

  • Jemima (7/27/2019 4:30:00 PM)

    Beautiful poem. Sounds like a bedtime story.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Randy Johnson (11/6/2018 4:55:00 PM)

    This poem really sucks(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Britte NinadBritte Ninad (6/12/2018 3:32:00 AM)

    The great chest and upper of this figure
    this is world
    Benevolent benefactor for its dweller
    green of all its is uniform or ideal dress
    I, the beast or inhuman put off it heinously from its breast
    None is known to its decent limb
    walk i the inhuman awkwardly on its fair body
    devastate I the fiend all green dress
    and make I the beast it nude
    by forgetting its benefactions...(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Mahtab BangaleeMahtab Bangalee (5/31/2018 5:08:00 AM)

    O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
    And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
    for nothing.
    ......
    They are alive and well somewhere;
    The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
    And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
    at the end to arrest it,
    And ceased the moment life appeared.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Pop chany (2/8/2018 6:59:00 PM)

    When I see this poem I think this is the world BEST poem(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Tom Allport (1/8/2017 5:56:00 AM)

    a poem full of questions and intrigue, brilliento?(Report)Reply

    7 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Richard Lewis (9/18/2016 11:04:00 AM)

    A classic from Walt.. Excellente..(Report)Reply

    ur mum(4/25/2019 11:47:00 AM)

    hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! big boi

    5 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • Jayne Doe (5/24/2016 9:55:00 PM)

    I absolutely love this poem! It makes me think about how we become so accustomed to the world around us and how someone so young and innocent can cause us to see what is before us in a new light, pushing us to view things with a new perspectives and to appreciate the standard as something more.(Report)Reply

    13 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • Mary Tilley (1/5/2016 7:00:00 AM)

    Because Dear Frances...God IS Everything! Without God, there is NO meaning to Life because once the body withers away to dust it came from, the soul must make its journey to where it chose to go while in the body. My prayer for you is that you find GOD in Everything you do because as Solomon once said, "All life is meaningless without God." Blessings (Report)Reply

    another jane doe(1/8/2018 9:57:00 AM)

    very much agree-great to see others understand

    11 person liked.
    31 person did not like.
  • * Sunprincess * (6/18/2014 10:14:00 AM)

    ..........the curiosity of this child has taken us from what is the grass....to what has happened to the men and women.....love the poet's view of death....very nicely written...(Report)Reply

    17 person liked.
    22 person did not like.
  • Francie LynchFrancie Lynch (6/11/2014 4:23:00 PM)

    Why bring God into the meaning of anything?(Report)Reply

    17 person liked.
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  • Surajit Banerjee (6/2/2014 4:05:00 AM)

    The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
    And if ever there was it led forward life - the eternal bliss a wonderful gift to the world by Indian Philosophy.(Report)Reply

    12 person liked.
    22 person did not like.
  • Surajit Banerjee (6/2/2014 3:58:00 AM)

    The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
    And if ever there was it led forward life - the eternal bliss an wonderful gift to the world by Indian Philosophy.(Report)Reply

    10 person liked.
    18 person did not like.
  • Walter White (1/4/2014 6:35:00 AM)

    What is the meaning of life? ....the child asks.(Report)Reply

    30 person liked.
    23 person did not like.
  • Cambridge Keenan (7/14/2013 11:02:00 PM)

    A clever and fascinating poem....it is pure wonder, the quests of a child seeking answers...I remember when my boy saved a worms life and oh the knowledge he sought after even to this day :) I really like this poem, as my mom is now 90 years of age...this is heart felt for me :)(Report)Reply

    33 person liked.
    26 person did not like.
  • Miroslava OdalovicMiroslava Odalovic (6/11/2013 8:36:00 AM)

    This is, has always been one of the most important poems ever written, opening the questions of existence dating back to Old Greek wonder at creation to the modern negative attitude to life being endlessly piled over life, in an almost absurd way, and whenever I read I have a feeling that Whitman has incorporated almost all the shades standing between, beginning with awesome divinity to a highly ambiguous depiction of death 'luckier' when we think, depending on what luck means for each individual person. The layers of historical thinking summerized in an apparently short piece of writing.(Report)Reply

    25 person liked.
    31 person did not like.
  • Sky WelchSky Welch (11/19/2012 6:08:00 PM)

    the grass only obeys the wind as does all life(Report)Reply

    29 person liked.
    38 person did not like.
  • Deci Hernandez (6/11/2012 4:07:00 PM)

    I was wondering after the grass is plucked why then does it's color remain and it's form not instantly stiff'n. it can even still can be woven.(Report)Reply

    23 person liked.
    53 person did not like.
  • Pranab K ChakrabortyPranab K Chakraborty (6/11/2012 9:21:00 AM)

    After a long reading, one thing is clear from this specific poem, the child is Whitman himself and deliberately wants to communicate a truth.......

    They are alive and well somewhere;
    The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
    And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
    at the end to arrest it,
    And ceased the moment life appeared.

    Here the asker and the answerer....both the poet plays within a single conscious. Nice.(Report)Reply

    28 person liked.
    41 person did not like.
  • Sarsha C (5/31/2012 9:40:00 PM)

    I suppose when you sit and ponder something it is about opening your mine to more then one possibility in life and questions does any one person have all the information to answer any question is anything more then a metaphor or just some ones opinion, Is there fact or fiction I guess it could be both.(Report)Reply

    27 person liked.
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Read all 33 comments »




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Read poems about / on: women, child, mother, dark, beautiful, children, hair, green, red, people, death, woman



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003