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The Texture of the Sixth Poem of Song of Myself
In number six of Whitman's poetic series "Song of Myself," it seems that he is trying to convey the point that to die is not what people make it out to be. Whitman throughout many of the poems in this series, describes death as "lucky" and beneficial. He also explains how death leads to the beginning of life in this poem. The tone at the very beginning of this poem seems a bit youthful. Especially when the question "What is grass?" is posed to him by a child. This opening line gives you a great mental picture of a child about the age of five or six, walking up and asking innocently a question that you cannot answer. By using the line, "fetching it to me with full/ hands;" Whitman gives you that image right from the beginning. From there he goes into this sort of naïve tone, guessing what grass means. By doing so he shows himself to be mortal and not all-knowing.
During this time in the poem, he gives beautiful metaphorical imagery, comparing the grass to other things and illustrating a better idea of what the grass is. Also during this speculation period, the wording becomes denser, as the ideas become complex. Whitman moves from the single-lined "childish" voice, into the adult stage of the poem. Here, he becomes surer of what the grass is and does less guessing. Around line 101, Whitman starts toward the turning point in the essay, describing the death aspect of the grass. Words like "dark" change the mood of the poem to a slower, sadder state. At line 110, the poem takes a sudden change and reads much quicker. It changes into a kind of argument and Whitman speaks more affirmatively. Now it seems as if he has been enlightened and understands what the grass is. The feeling of death changes to life and darkness changes to light.
In a subtle way, he gives the reader a feeling of lightness and life, because in the last four lines he begins all of the lines with "A's" and as you read it you get that choral "Hallelujah" feeling. Whitman shows you the light. He tells you why death is a good thing. There is no more fear. "To die is different from what any one supposed, and/luckier.
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Whitman ultimately gives the reader assurance that death is good and there is no reason to fear it.