This blog assignment requires you to read and comment on Walt Whitman's poem, "Song of Myself, (6)."  Your comment can relate to a general interpretation or observation of the poem, or you can write an "open" question that we can try to answer during the seminar.  Our goal is to find meaning in this poem via our collaborative efforts.

(6)
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 dropt,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may seed 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, or from offspring taken soon out of their mothers' laps,
And here you are the mothers' 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?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows 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 ceas'd the moment life appear'd.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
 


Comments

Lynda8
09/15/2010 4:46pm

As I read the "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman,I actually found myself curious about this certain topic. It made me want to read it over again, just so I can be sure that I have the right idea about this poem.

This poem talks about the little things that we don't question very often. When we do, it always connect to life.The answer itself is found within us or from the past.It's an on-going curiousity that has no real answer to it.

yahya8
09/15/2010 8:26pm

First of all i have to say "wow". This guy is really deep and shows it by his work. I'm gonna guess that Walt was talking about how everyone is truly ignorant and that they don't know anything more then the child asking the question . You can tell from the beginning when he says to himself "How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he". He starts asking himself all the things that the grass could mean. Walter starts saying some complex stuff about how the grass could be his sorrow, that it could come from old men and the breasts of young men. All in all i think Walter is saying that every one is ignorant and to find the answer we are looking for we have to search deeper then we normally would.

Stephanie8
09/16/2010 4:45pm

Well this poem really got me thinking. I had to read it over many times just to get a better understanding of what Walt Whitman is trying to say. Basically, the child asked him 'what is the grass?", and he couldn't answer because he really didn't know. He went deeper into the question and thinking of what to respond to the little boy.

My interpretation of this poem would be that a simple thing is much more complicated than we all may think. You'll never get the right answer by simply just looking for it. It takes time and thought to find what you are really looking for and then you still maybe wrong but the thought of trying might just help you move closer to the answer. For example what if you were in Walt's position? What would you tell the little boy? Well, I wouldn't find a right way to explain grass because there's not a certain way to define grass, something you're so familiar with, which seems strange when you think about it but seems very true and that just surprises me more and still gets me thinking, do any of us actually know the answers we're looking for in life?

Qaswa8
09/16/2010 5:12pm

"They are alive and well somewhere,
there really is no death," (Song to Myself, Walt Whitman)
I agree with what Lynda and what Yahya said. Really, we human beings are very ignorant even though we have been given the power of intelligence. We should be stopping and thinking about these little things, but the majority of us don't. Walt Whitman captures the intelligence that is within humans, and he brings it to the surface to show what each person is capable of. I believe that Whitman is trying to convey through this poem is that we should value the earth because it is full of life, even as death is all around.
The quote that I opened with, I found very interesting. I thought that it meant that every sprout that is on the earth is a living soul of those that passed away. I found this poem very sorrowful, because, i think as Whitman questions of what happened to the young men, women, and so on. I think that he shows that perhaps death is better than this world. The last stanza was kind of touching. Is death different than what people think it to be? Is it luckier? Whitman left it so open.
In conclusion, I think that human should appreciate the life of earth and death. We should find the value in little things. I know for sure that I will start to observe this world's life more. Whitman's poem opened a voice.

Joey8
09/16/2010 5:37pm

Well, the poem is quite stumping, I agree with the past commenters. But simple enough I feel as though the poem is simply trying to tell us, life goes on, we die, and are bodies are used to bring life to plants, and help the cycle of life. This poem could be fathomed in a million different ways.
But that's just my opinion.

Jordan8
09/16/2010 6:13pm

After i read this poem i was kinda confused. I get the beginning of the poem when he says he cant answer the child about what grass is,but after that i get lost. To me it's like he goes from talking about one topic to something completely different. I guess what he's trying to say though is that grass can be anything that you want it to be because there isnt really an anwser for what grass actually is. It can be one thing or many. It is what you believe it is.

Laura 8
09/16/2010 6:44pm

Aw. I really enjoy how this writer describes this situation.
Firstly, I think Walt Whitman is saying that's it just as lucky as it is to die than being born. For example, in the last stanza it states,
"And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier."
From this you may infer that the afterlife maybe be better than what everyone is to think and as well, be as lucky as being born.
There are a couple more examples where he refers to the afterlife, as well, as that one.

Joselin8
09/16/2010 7:15pm

"Song of Myself" was a really descripted poem as I read along it made me feel that we should be asking about all the little things of life that we dont ask about like for example the grass. This poem is about how a little boy wants a ansewr but nobody can give it to him.

Veronica8
09/16/2010 8:07pm

After reading this poem, it really made me think about all the lines Walt Whitman wrote. In every single line, he really digs deep, starting with one topic and relating it to another and so on.

This is what I think Walt Whitman is trying to say:
As the child shows him the bunch of grass blades, it appears to him as a symbol. They symbolize everybody and how we sprout everywhere in the whole world. Then he looks at the grass and sees it over the graves of loved ones. It's as if the grass is like the dead. But then towards the end, [I think] he's trying to say that they're purpose here on Earth will always be here and that where one grass blade curls over, one will sprout in it's place.

andrea8
09/16/2010 8:22pm

I think the point of the poem "song to myself" was written to make people want to actually think about the meaning of many little things you dont usually think about and try to figure out what all those little things mean or are to you.
I also think that many people might think an object or thing has a certain meaning to them but sombody else might think it actually has another whole different meaning.For example grass like in the poem could mean many different things to many people.For example grass could be a flag of disposition or the handkerchief of the lord and etc like said in the poem.

Therefore there is no real answer to what many things are or mean.I guess it depends on how an individual sees or thinks what something means to them.

Merima8
09/16/2010 8:28pm

When i first read "Song of myself" I didn't really get it because it seemed like the poem had a lot more meaning then what we could think of. After reading the poem three times I kinda figured out that the poem is about people taking things for granted. For example he says that he himself doesn't know much about grass then the little kid but we see grass in our everyday lifes its impossible that we don't but its true we don't know much about it. When reading this peom I think you really have to think outside the box to acsually understand it.

Ayman8
09/16/2010 8:33pm

This poem can have different meanings to different people. To me, I think it means that those little "unimportant" things we dont question or even think about could be some of the most important and questionable things. Just think about it. Why is the water blue? Why is the sky blue? Why are our letters A-Z and not Z-A? So really, what is the grass? The grass could be our connection from our lives to the afterlife. Grass could simpley just be the home to many insects and creatures. Grass could tell a whole story that none of us even think or care of. So what was Walt trying to do in this piece of poem? He wasnt just putting words together, in my opinion he is sending us a message. You know, like the morse code. To me the message came across that he wants us to appreciate the things we consider to have no meaning, and question them. Why?


What is grass? That can kind of be the same as asking why did Melinda in "Speak" give up everything to do the right thing? Both questions are most likely things that people wouldnt care about. How many people actually wonder what grass really is until they read this poem? How many people actually felt for Melinda and applauded her for doing the right thing instead of ignoring her? Grass can be so many things. Melinda could have given up everything to stop the party for her own personal reasons. Honestly though, I think everything has a reason behind it and everyone has a reason for their actions, whether good or bad.

Mirela8
09/16/2010 8:44pm

In the poem, "Song Of Myself" by Walt Whitman, the author seems as if he is trying to portray several different things at once. For starters, Walt Whitman asks himself the same question that the child was asking him about the grass. I feel that Witman is trying to tell us that there are some things in life that we will never know how or why they are there. This is probably because things are created naturally. Maybe the author is trying to tell us that there is a deeper meaning behind everything. That the grass is not just the grass. He is probably looking at the grass as symbolism. The grass could be representing life. Walt Whitman is kind of showing the cycle of life by having "Or I guess the grass is itself a child..." and later on talking about the "dead young men and women". He sounds as if he felt that life will go on no matter what and even death can't really stop it. I believe that there are several different answers and responses to this poem because everyone will have a different interpretation or reflection to the writing.

Angela8
09/16/2010 8:47pm

When I was reading this poem by Walt Whitman, I was confused at first about what he was talking about. When I read it slowly to myself again, I started to understand the poem a little bit more.

I thought that in the poem he was explaining what grass may mean and what he thinks about grass. Actually, I think he really meant to compare the grass and our lives as human beings. But grass is more opposite of us. The grass would eventually die, but it would grow back and keep on growing and growing. This shows him that if grass can live on and on why can't we?

He stated in the poem that, "They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows 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 ceas'd the moment life appear'd." In my mind, I think he meant that the life of the grass shows that there is no dead end to our lives and it's gives us an afterlife to not do anything wrong anymore. Also it should be giving us another chance in life to redo things that we have done wrong.

This is just like Speak and I think this because Melinda did something wrong and it made everyone hate her in school. This basically made her all lonely in school and she would have no one to hang or talk to. For example, the poem I think that the people that hate her should forgive her for what she did. I think they should give another chance to make up for her mistake. Everyone should see that she has been punished enough by being lonely and having everyone hate her. Walt did make a point that having an afterlife, everything goes onward and outward of the death point, "All goes onward and outward..."

At the end, I agree with Lynda8. The poem really pulls me in and made me want to read it over and over again.

Brian8
09/16/2010 9:00pm

At first I thought this poem would be really boring because I usually don't like reading poems because I get bored too fast, but this poem was actually very interesting. I think the author was very smart and creative about this poem. I think the poem's meaning is like what Lynda and Yahya said, there's many unanswered questions out in the world. At the end of the poem where it says "All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses", I'm not sure if Walt really meant what he says about life going onward or if he had a hidden message in this, but I think Walt is trying to talk about reincarnation. He might not but I believe in reincarnation so I'm going to just throw that out there.

Amila8
09/16/2010 9:21pm

After I read "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman, I was very curious about what he was saying. The topic of this poem was very interesting. I found myself reading it over and over again. I agree with what Lynda said, sometimes we never actually think about the little things in life, and when we do, nobody ever has the real answer. When Walt Whitman said "How could I answer this kid? I don't know any more than he", he's basically saying that no one ever really knows the real answer about anything. Sometimes we have to think really hard, and dig really deep to figure things out.

Raem8
09/16/2010 10:17pm

At first, i didnt know what to think about the poem, so I read it again and again. All i have to say is that this must be the only prompt that actually made me say,"Hmm i wonder what this meant."
I think what Walt meant was that everyone is equal. I say this because he mentions, "Growing among black folks as among white, Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same." This made me very angry, because we all live our lives and think of nothing but ourselves because we have such a good life and we never refer to those who suffer or try to help them. He also mentions, that death is not the ending and there is much after that so if you feel you are being mistreated, dont worry because there is much more to the afterlife than what we live.

Subomi8
09/16/2010 10:57pm

I am really put out of words to say because of this most delightful poem by Walt Whiteman wrote. He is very good at what he does there is a quote that I especially like the part when he says, "And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves"(12). He was saying that the grass could be compared with "uncut hair of graves". Which I think was a very deep statement.

I agree with Yaya's comment that Walt Whitman is a very deep writer. I also think that "they don't know anything more then the child asking the question”. I also think that when we ask the little questions that we never really ponder on we might find that the answer is difficult for us to answer.

camille8
09/16/2010 11:32pm

In this particular poem, I never thought that I would have a hard time figuring it out. There's a certain mystery behind it, that makes me want to read it over and over again until I come up with a main idea on what it is about.
I personally think, this poem shows the curiosity behind each and every human life. This shows, how every human, big or small, old or young still have puzzle pieces that hasn't or haven't been resolved as their life passes by.
I think, the author wants us to realize that often times we can not resolve our curiosity. We have to think about it, lots of times.It makes us STOP or PAUSE for even for a small amount of time and think, about reality and the wonders behind it.

Geneva8
09/17/2010 7:38am

As I read this poem, all I was thinking is 'Wow this is deep'. Walt Whitman took a simple question from a little child, and turn it into something more.

I think what this poem is basically telling us is that things we all think of as simple, are actually extremely complex. For example, grasss. A whole poem was writen about what grass is... and what it may be. This was a wonderful poem.


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    Mr. Rutkowski enjoys reading and studying poetry. He is an English teacher at Stephen T. Mather High School in Chicago, Illinois.

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