Summary and Analysis: Calamus
There Was a Child Went Forth
A child went out each day and the first object he saw, he became. That object continued to remain part of him either for a short while or for many years. Such objects as lilacs, grass, morning glories, March-born lambs, streets, oceans, clouds, and the horizon's edge became part of him, as did his parents and all other men and women. "These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go forth every day."
This poem expresses the poet's identification of his consciousness with all objects and forms, and the list of things which he himself identifies with is large and comprehensive and is a good example of Whitman's catalogs. The continual process of becoming is at the heart of the poem. We become something or grow into something and this is the process of becoming, of change and development. The interpenetration of the child's consciousness and physical phenomena, as shown in this poem, is one of the essential elements of Whitman's thought.