“There Was a Child Went Forth” by Walt Whitman

Last night, I was reading poems from Leaves of Grass and came across “There Was a Child Went Forth” (click here to read it online). The poem essentially talks about how everything that a person comes in contact with, no matter how seemingly insignificant, has an impact on that person’s development. Essentially, we are the combined imprints of all that we have been exposed to. I truly believe this myself, and as a result have always sought to experience as much of life as possible and to try new things.

There was a particular stanza that resonated with me:

His own parents, he that had father’d him and she that had conceiv’d him in her womb and birth’d him,
They gave this child more of themselves than that,
They gave him afterward every day, they became part of him.

Reading this as a parent, I couldn’t help thinking about how much of an influence I have on my children. Thankfully, I seem to have had a positive impact on their lives, since they are doing far better than I was when I was their age. I suppose that is the best I can hope for, to give them a good foundation before they go forth on their own path through life.


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