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Walt Whitman - There was a Child went Forth.

THERE was a child went forth every day; 
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became; 
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the day, or for many
	years, or
	stretching cycles of years. 
The early lilacs became part of this child, 
And grass, and white and red morning-glories, and white and red clover, and the song of
And the Third-month lambs, and the sow’s pink-faint litter, and the mare’s foal,
	cow’s calf, 
And the noisy brood of the barn-yard, or by the mire of the pond-side, 
And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there—and the beautiful curious
And the water-plants with their graceful flat heads—all became part of him. 
The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month became part of him;
Winter-grain sprouts, and those of the light-yellow corn, and the esculent roots of the
And the apple-trees cover’d with blossoms, and the fruit afterward, and wood-berries,
	commonest weeds by the road; 
And the old drunkard staggering home from the out-house of the tavern, whence he had
And the school-mistress that pass’d on her way to the school, 
And the friendly boys that pass’d—and the quarrelsome boys,
And the tidy and fresh-cheek’d girls—and the barefoot negro boy and girl, 
And all the changes of city and country, wherever he went. 
His own parents, 
He that had father’d him, and she that had conceiv’d him in her womb, and
They gave this child more of themselves than that;
They gave him afterward every day—they became part of him. 
The mother at home, quietly placing the dishes on the supper-table; 
The mother with mild words—clean her cap and gown, a wholesome odor falling off her
	clothes as she walks by; 
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, anger’d, unjust; 
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company, the furniture—the yearning and swelling
Affection that will not be gainsay’d—the sense of what is real—the thought
	all, it should prove unreal, 
The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-time—the curious whether and how, 
Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all flashes and specks? 
Men and women crowding fast in the streets—if they are not flashes and specks, what
The streets themselves, and the façades of houses, and goods in the windows, 
Vehicles, teams, the heavy-plank’d wharves—the huge crossing at the ferries, 
The village on the highland, seen from afar at sunset—the river between, 
Shadows, aureola and mist, the light falling on roofs and gables of white or brown, three
The schooner near by, sleepily dropping down the tide—the little boat
The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests, slapping, 
The strata of color’d clouds, the long bar of maroon-tint, away solitary by
	spread of purity it lies motionless in, 
The horizon’s edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance of salt marsh and shore mud; 
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will
    always go
	every day.

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Added: Feb 7 2004 | Viewed: 1100 times | Comments and analysis of There was a Child went Forth. by Walt Whitman Comments (16)

There was a Child went Forth. - Comments and Information

Poet: Walt Whitman
Poem: 1. There was a Child went Forth.
Volume: Leaves of Grass
- 7. Leaves of Grass
Year: Published/Written in 1900

Comment 16 of 16, added on August 3rd, 2015 at 8:50 AM.

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Comment 15 of 16, added on December 21st, 2014 at 5:31 AM.

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Comment 14 of 16, added on December 1st, 2012 at 8:32 AM.

My mother passed away at 92 years recently. She had told me that this poem is very important and everyone should read it. I think it is about how everything we expose our children to influences who they are and who they become. I had lost track of the poem and am grateful to find it on this site!

Alison Ewing from United States

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