Whitman, Walt. "There Was a Child Went Forth".
The poem describes a child's quest. The child goes forth every day and each day he merges with the first object he sees. The object then becomes a part of him and vice versa. Flowers, trees, beasts, and bird's songs become part of him. Also various human beings become part of him, including a drunkard, a schoolmistress, and other children.
The child however incorporates the most of his mother and father. He incorporates his mother who is mild, silent, and caring, and his father who is strong, manly, and unjust. He also incorporates the family life, its habits, language, company, furniture, etc., as well as abstractions, as affections, doubts, etc.
The speakers asks in a rhetorical way whether the appearance of things is not merely "flashes and specks" representing people in the streets, streets, houses, villages, waves, clouds, horizon, odours, etc. But anyway all these become parts of the child "who now goes, and will always go forth every day".
Rather atypically for Whitman, the poem is not in the voice of a first person speaker, but it is a description from the third person point of view.
The poem expresses vigorous all-embracing love and desire to merge with the whole of the world. Specifically it points out love to one's family, and people and nature in general.
AuthorWhitman, Walt. (1819 - 1892).
Full Title"There Was a Child Went Forth".
Whitman, Walt. "There Was a Child Went Forth". (1855). Leaves of Grass. NY: Penguin, 1944.