In section 6 of "Song of Myself," how does the image of grass represent the cycle of life and death? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.

In section 6 of "Song of Myself," the speaker implies that the image of grass is a reminder of the cycle of life and death because the grass is like the Earth's hair, and hair grows on the heads of the young, the old, and the bodies of the dead.

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About halfway through section 6 of "Song of Myself," Whitman writes that the grass, clutched by a child, could be "itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation." Here Whitman implies that, relative perhaps to the rest of the universe, the grass clutched by the child is young, new, and hence like a "child" or "babe." A little later in the same section of the poem, Whitman writes that the grass seems to be "the beautiful uncut hair of graves." This evokes an image of grass growing from the earth over unkempt graves, and this associates the grass with death. Thus, with these two lines, Whitman uses the same image of grass to connect birth and death and, in using the same image for both, implies the unending cycle from one to the other.

Later in section 6, Whitman continues with the idea that the grass represents the hair of the Earth, and he begins to imagine what kind of person or persons the Earth might be that would produce such hair. He notes that the grass is "very dark to be from the white heads of old Mothers," and he speculates that the grass, or hair, might be "from offspring taken / Soon out of their mothers' laps." Thinking on whether the hair might be that of infants or "old Mothers," Whitman then begins to ponder the nature of life and death. He says that the "smallest sprout" of grass "shows there is really no death," meaning that death is necessary for life as life is necessary for death. Grass grows even from the graves of the dead, and thus the grass represents that from death there emerges life.

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