Poem – A Child Said, What Is The Grass? – Walt Whitman 

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 dropped, 

Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we 

may see 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 


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 and from women, and 

from offspring taken soon out of their mother’s laps, 

And here you are the mother’s laps. 
This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old 


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? 

What do you think has become of the women and 

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 


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