In "Song of Myself," the grass is a powerful and enduring symbol that represents the interconnectedness and cyclical nature of life. In section six of the poem, Whitman describes the grass as a "handkerchief of the Lord," covering the graves of the dead and providing nourishment for the living. The grass is also described as a "universe of dew," representing the constant renewal and rebirth of life.
The grass figure in "Song of Myself" signifies the idea that all things are connected and that death is a natural part of life's cycle. Whitman's use of the grass as a symbol reflects his belief in the unity and interconnectedness of all beings.
In addition to its symbolic significance, the grass also serves as a metaphor for the poet's own life and work. Just as the grass is ever-present and enduring, Whitman sees his own poetry as a lasting and integral part of the world. He writes: "I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, / If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles."
Whitman likely chose the title "Leaves of Grass" for his life's work because the grass represents the cycle of life and the interconnectedness of all beings. The title suggests that the poems in the collection are like leaves on a plant, each contributing to the overall growth and nourishment of the whole. The title also suggests that the poems are a part of something larger and more enduring, just as the grass is a part of the earth and its cycles.
Throughout Leaves of Grass, Whitman celebrates the beauty and diversity of life, and the grass figure serves as a central symbol of this celebration. In his poetry, Whitman embraces the idea that all beings are connected and that death is a natural part of life's cycle. He celebrates the enduring and ever-present nature of the grass as a metaphor for his own poetry and its place in the world.