In the poem "Leaves of Grass," a child asks, "What is the grass?" What are the principal values that may be explored and enhanced through the child's question?

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Grass is a central image in Whitman's poetry. Grass is an very common thing, but the child's question cuts to the heart of Whitman's poetic sensibility. Like the child, Whitman too wonders about the grass (the poem begins with him loafing and "contemplating a spear of summer grass") so in a sense, the question of what the grass is is another way of asking what anything is. The child's question gives Whitman an opportunity to explore the interconnectedness of all things.

The answers he gives bear this out: it is "the flag of my disposition" or a reflection of his individuality; it is "the handkerchief of the Lord" or a token of the divine presence in all things; it is the "produced babe of the vegetation" or the child of larger plants, suggesting that all plant-life is a kind of family; it is "a uniform hieroglyphic" or a puzzle...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 465 words.)

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