Whitman: Song of Myself, Section 6
In his poem, ³6. A child said,
What is the grass
?´ Walt Whitman describes aconversation with a curious child. This sixth section of ³Song of Myself´ seems tosuggest that Whitman is trying to explain what grass is but becoming increasingly buriedin his thoughts, while trying to answer the child¶s question, ³
What is the grass?
´ Adeeper reading suggests that the child is a part of the speaker, trying to understand lifeand death. At several points in the work ³Song of Myself´ it appears Whitman tries toconvince the reader that life and death are equally important to the health of the world.In the first lines of the poem, the speaker is talking to a child who asks "What isthe grass?´ at first, the speaker is taken aback by the child's question because he doesn't"know what it is anymore than" the child. As the speaker tries to explain the grass, heuses a series of metaphors in order to arrive at a meaning. He begins by saying the grassmust be a ³flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven,´ (101-102) he seemsto think that the grass is an extension of his inherent qualities expressed as a flag thatgives him hope.The speaker moves onto musing that perhaps the grass is ³the handkerchief of theLord,´ as a ³remembrancer designedly dropt,´ with the Lord¶s name monogrammed atthe corner so we ³may see and remark, and say Whose,´ (103-106) here, Whitmanappears to compare the Lord to a lady dropping her handkerchief to get a suitor¶sattention, in an attempt to persuade people into looking for him. This type of comparisonharks back to some of Ralph Waldo Emerson¶s ideas about finding the divine in Nature,forever looking for the clues God leaves in nature. According to Whitman, the clues arein nature, its up to us to follow them. In the next line, he considers that maybe the grass is