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

A Child Said, What Is The Grass?

Rating: 3.4


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 OF THE POEM
Deci Hernandez 11 June 2012

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.

23 53 Reply
Leah Harden 13 January 2012

I love how it uses grass to explain the circle of life. He explains that those who die (their beards, their hair, the young or the old) nurture and feed the grass to grow and hence life continues around and around never ending and never waisting anything symbolising no ending only a new beginning. All that is lost can be re sewn, giving life to the grass and forming why and what it stands for an might be. Beautiful

35 34 Reply
Pranab K Chakraborty 11 June 2012

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.

28 41 Reply
Manolo Del Toro 11 June 2011

Hey man, I can tell grass is man.

23 44 Reply
Sky Welch 19 November 2012

the grass only obeys the wind as does all life

29 38 Reply
Jemima 27 July 2019

Beautiful poem. Sounds like a bedtime story.

3 0 Reply
Randy Johnson 06 November 2018

This poem really sucks

4 5 Reply
Britte Ninad 12 June 2018

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...

2 0 Reply
Mahtab Bangalee 31 May 2018

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.

2 0 Reply
Pop chany 08 February 2018

When I see this poem I think this is the world BEST poem

3 1 Reply

Walt Whitman

New York / United States
Close
Error Success