Summary and Analysis: Children of Adam
To the Garden of the World
Man endeavors to ascend to the Garden of Eden again. But only through love can he achieve this goal. Physical love gives meaning to man's life and the body lends substance to his existence. The poet is ready for rebirth. Life seems beautiful and wondrous to him and the quivering fire in his limbs prepares him for physical love. He is content. Eve (woman) is with him: "By my side or back of me Eve following,/Or in front, and I following her just the same."
"To the Garden the World" is the opening poem of the Children of Adam group. It celebrates the physical love between man and woman. Love is conceived of as a cosmic force which will help restore man to his lost paradise. Whitman reverses traditional Christian teachings (derived from the story of Genesis in the Old Testament) to make the Children of Adam proud, rather than ashamed, of their heritage. The poet recreates for modern man the ideal of sexual innocence in the joy of Adam before the Fall. Man shouldn't treat the body as a source of the immoral, but accept it as a necessary medium of spiritual regeneration. Whitman visualizes human beings who will rejoice in the physical relationships between men and women. The poet's body shakes with physical desires and his phrase "I peer and penetrate" has an obvious sexual implication. The modern Eve is either by man's side, or leading, or following — this implies Whitman's belief that women should enjoy equality with men.