Vintage verse – Passers-by by Carl Sandburg

Passers-by

Passers-by,
Out of your many faces
Flash memories to me
Now at the day end
Away from the sidewalks
Where your shoe soles traveled
And your voices rose and blent
To form the city’s afternoon roar
Hindering an old silence.

Passers-by,
I remember lean ones among you,
Throats in the clutch of a hope,
Lips written over with strivings,
Mouths that kiss only for love,
Records of great wishes slept with,
. . . .Held long
And prayed and toiled for:

. . . .Yes,
Written on
Your mouths

by Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Languages by Carl Sandburg

Languages

There are no handles upon a language
Whereby men take hold of it
And mark it with signs for its remembrance.
It is a river, this language,
Once in a thousand years
Breaking a new course
Changing its way to the ocean.
It is mountain effluvia
Moving to valleys
And from nation to nation
Crossing borders and mixing.
Languages die like rivers.
Words wrapped round your tongue today
And broken to shape of thought
Between your teeth and lips speaking
Now and today
Shall be faded hieroglyphics
Ten thousand years from now.
Sing—and singing—remember
Your song dies and changes
And is not here to-morrow
Any more than the wind
Blowing ten thousand years ago.

by Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Loam by Carl Sandburg

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Loam

In the loam we sleep,
In the cool moist loam,
To the lull of years that pass
And the break of stars,

From the loam, then,
The soft warm loam,
. . . . . . . .We rise:
To shape of rose leaf,
Of face and shoulder.

. . . . . . . .We stand, then,
. . . . . . . .To a whiff of life,
Lifted to the silver of the sun
Over and out of the loam
. . . . . . . .A day.

by Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Prayers of Steel by Carl Sandburg

Prayers of Steel

Lay me on an anvil, O God.
Beat me and hammer me into a crowbar.
Let me pry loose old walls.
Let me lift and loosen old foundations.

Lay me on an anvil, O God.
Beat me and hammer me into a steel spike.
Drive me into the girders that hold a skyscraper together.
Take red-hot rivets and fasten me into the central girders.
Let me be the great nail holding a skyscraper through blue nights into white stars.

by Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Loam by Carl Sandburg

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Loam

In the loam we sleep,
In the cool moist loam,
To the lull of years that pass
And the break of stars,

From the loam, then,
The soft warm loam,
. . . . . . . .We rise:
To shape of rose leaf,
Of face and shoulder.

. . . . . . . .We stand, then,
. . . . . . . .To a whiff of life,
Lifted to the silver of the sun
Over and out of the loam
. . . . . . . .A day.

by Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Theme in Yellow by Carl Sandburg

 

 

Theme in Yellow

I spot the hills
With yellow balls in autumn.
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o’-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.

by Carl Sandburg (1878–1967)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim.