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A child said, What is the grass? By Walt Whitman

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Fatime S

on 19 December 2013

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Transcript of A child said, What is the grass? By Walt Whitman

"A child said, What is the grass?" By Walt Whitman
Interpretation by Jensen Ritzow and Fatime Sino

What it's about...
Our interpretation of "A child said, what is the grass?" is that the grass in the poem that the child asks about is actually life and death. The child is asking what is life and death, which is the theme. The narrator does not know how to respond, even though he is old, which shows that the mysteries of life and death are always mysteries, no matter how old you are. The grass could be interpreted as the beginning of another life after death as well. The whole poem is like a metaphor for grass being like death. Grass is also getting human characteristics, personification.

Walt Whitman normally wrote about being okay with death, life and nature. All of these are shown in this poem. It is written in free verse.
Your interpretation
Each group will get one section of the poem. It is your job to interpret it as best as you can. The one group member that shares out what the group interpretation is will get candy.
"Or I guess the grass itself is a child... the produced babe of vegetation"

The man is thinking about how he can describe the grass to the child. He continues coming up with new ideas. This idea could mean that death (grass) is like a new beginning. It is like the new life of a new baby. This could also mean that death (being the grass) is innocent and cunning like a child can be. Death is like a clean slate like a newborn child has as well.
"And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing"

The grass is growing on the roof of mouths of dead people. This could convey that no death happens for no reason. Every death has a reason and a meaning. It could also portray that everyone is affected by it.
"And to die is different from what anyone supposed, and luckier"

Death is being described as something no one expected. This could mean that death doesn't mean the end of life, it is more of the beginning of something new. You can still affect people with your life, even if you are dead, just like the grass can impact people all the time. It could also show that some people make more of an impact dead than alive.
"How could I answer the child?... I do not know what it is anymore than he"

The man is considering how to answer the question the child asked about grass. This line could mean that even with old age, some knowledge is never achieved. the mysteries of life, death (and grass) may never be known to people, no matter how old you are.
Full transcript