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Analyze the following poem: Walt Whitman - "A child said, What is the grass?"

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magnotta | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted June 5, 2011 at 2:20 PM via web

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Analyze the following poem: Walt Whitman - "A child said, What is the grass?"

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted June 6, 2011 at 1:48 AM (Answer #1)

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In the poem, "A Child said, What is Grass?" Whitman is reminding the reader that life goes on, even after death. In fact, he says there really is no death or death is not we suppose it to be. In death, he states that one is lucky.

When the child asks what is grass, Whitman is at a loss. Then upon reflection, he determines it to be a variety of things. He states that it is the "uncut hair of graves" or the "handkercief of the Lord."

After describing what the grass could be, Whitman creates beautiful lines, claiming that the grass is "Growing among black folks as among white, Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.

Whitman realizes that prejudices exist but he addresses the issue with mere common sense and causes the reader to realize how absurd prejudices are.

Finally, Whitman states that smallest sprouts of grass give hope that life goes on:

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.

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