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Analysis and comments on There was a Child went Forth. by Walt Whitman

1 [2]

Comment 4 of 14, added on April 17th, 2006 at 5:05 AM.

I first read this poem in my literature and culcure course.it was
difficult for me to understand it。the most puzzling part is the last
few lines。

leonardo from China
Comment 3 of 14, added on May 22nd, 2005 at 5:20 PM.

I'm actually using this poem for an 8th grade grauduation speech. If you
have any suggestions pleas e email me.

Martin from United States
Comment 2 of 14, added on April 26th, 2005 at 8:13 PM.

When I read this poem the first thing that I thought was about scuicide!

Jason from Botswana
Comment 1 of 14, added on April 26th, 2005 at 5:35 PM.

I like how as the child gets older, the lines of the poem get longer.
Written in free-verse, there is an overlapping progression seen throughout
the poem: the child first notices objects, then nature, then animals, then
people, then machines. The progression can also be seen in the specific
things the child notices: at first, he or she notices "early" lilacs,
third-month lambs, calves...all things representing new life. The child
begins to understand that many different things can have the same color,
such as the red and white morning-glories and the clover.
Then the child branches out to the barnyard and sees "feild-sprouts of the
Fourth- and Fifth-month" and apples trees with flowers and then "the fruit
afterward," symbolizing the growing maturity of the child. He or she is
beginning to differentiate people by their age, gender, and race, and
behavior, as seen by the descriptions of many different kinds of people.
Another interesting point: the child realizes that not everything he sees
is good, such as the drunkard and the weeds.
The poem then moves to the parents and shows that along with giving the
child physical life, the mother and father also gave their child more of
themselves than that: it talks about the "wholesome," gentle mother before
talking about the "mean, anger'd, unjust" father. However, these words are
not mean to be as harsh as they seem. Fathers (as well as mothers) seem
"mean" to their children when they make rules and set limits, "anger'd"
when their child disobeys those limits, and "unjust" when they punish their
child for their disobedience. All of the child's family experiences stay
with him during his life, and at home he can always find "affection that is
not gainsay'd."
As the child gets older, he begins to think about the things he views -
"the doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-time" - and wonders if
things happen by random chance or if there is a purpose to his everyday
life.
The rest of the poem uses very descriptive language. It first talks about a
journey on a ferry that in today's world can be compared to a child going
off to college. Although it makes one nervous, there is still a safe
destination in sight: "the village in the highland." Also, a ferry is a
large, slow-moving boat, and much less frightening than a tiny schooner
being hurried and slapped by "tumbling waves." The voyage on the schooner
can be compared to the rest of the child's life: unsure and dangerous, but
most likely worth the trip. The image of the horizon suggests an unknown,
an area still to be discovered, adventures that have yet to take place,
etc.

"The strata of color'd clouds, the long bar of maroon-tint away solitary by
itself, the spread of purity it lies motionless in...these became part of
that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go
forth every day."
Each one of our experiences has an effect on us, whether temporary or
permanent, that shapes the rest of our lives.

I am not exactly sure that any of my analysis is correct; I am only writing
down the ideas that came to my mind when I read the poem. Everyone is
different and no two people will ever read the same poem the exact same
way. Walt Whitman is the man; everytime I read this poem I see something
new. Enjoy.

Cate from United States

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Information about There was a Child went Forth.

Poet: Walt Whitman
Poem: 1. There was a Child went Forth.
Volume: Leaves of Grass
- 7. Leaves of Grass
Year: 1900
Added: Feb 7 2004
Viewed: 345 times


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