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SANDBURG, Carl


Fog

The fog comes

on little cat feet.

It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches

and then moves on


Happiness

I ASKED the professors who teach the meaning of life to tell

me what is happiness.

And I went to famous executives who boss the work of

thousands of men.

They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though

I was trying to fool with them

And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along

the Desplaines river

And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with

their women and children

and a keg of beer and an

accordion.


Grass

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.

Shovel them under and let me work—
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.

Two years, ten years, and the passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.


The people yes
…..
The people will live on.

The learning and blundering people will live on.

They will be tricked and sold and again sold

And go back to the nourishing earth for rootholds,

The people so peculiar in renewal and comeback,

You can't laugh off their capacity to take it.

The mammoth rests between his cyclonic dramas.

The people so often sleepy, weary, enigmatic,

is a vast huddle with many units saying:

"I earn my living.

I make enough to get by

and it takes all my time.

If I had more time

I could do more for myself

and maybe for others.

I could read and study

and talk things over

and find out about things.

It takes time.

I wish I had the time."

The people is a tragic and comic two-face: hero and hoodlum:

phantom and gorilla twisting to moan with a gargoyle mouth:

"They buy me and sell me...it's a game...sometime I'll

break loose..."

Once having marched

Over the margins of animal necessity,

Over the grim line of sheer subsistence

Then man came

To the deeper rituals of his bones,

To the lights lighter than any bones,

To the time for thinking things over,

To the dance, the song, the story,

Or the hours given over to dreaming,

Once having so marched.

Between the finite limitations of the five senses

and the endless yearnings of man for the beyond

the people hold to the humdrum bidding of work and food

while reaching out when it comes their way

for lights beyond the prison of the five senses,

for keepsakes lasting beyond any hunger or death.

This reaching is alive.

The panderers and liars have violated and smutted it.

Yet this reaching is alive yet

for lights and keepsakes.

The people know the salt of the sea

and the strength of the winds

lashing the corners of the earth.

The people take the earth

as a tomb of rest and a cradle of hope.

Who else speaks for the Family of Man?

They are in tune and step

with constellations of universal law.

The people is a polychrome,

a spectrum and a prism

held in a moving monolith,

a console organ of changing themes,

a clavilux of color poems

wherein the sea offers fog

and the fog moves off in rain

and the labrador sunset shortens

to a nocturne of clear stars

serene over the shot spray

of northern lights.

The steel mill sky is alive.

The fire breaks white and zigzag

shot on a gun-metal gloaming.

Man is a long time coming.

Man will yet win.

Brother may yet line up with brother:

This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers.

There are men who can't be bought.

The fireborn are at home in fire.

The stars make no noise,

You can't hinder the wind from blowing.

Time is a great teacher.

Who can live without hope?

In the darkness with a great bundle of grief

the people march.

In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for keeps, the people

march:

"Where to? what next?"
…..


Chicago

Hog Butcher for the World,

Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,

Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;

Stormy, husky, brawling,


City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.

And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.

And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.

And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:

Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.

Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,

Bareheaded,

Shoveling,

Wrecking,

Planning,

Building, breaking, rebuilding,

Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,

Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,

Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,

Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people,

Laughing!

Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.



Wilderness

THERE is a wolf in me … fangs pointed for tearing gashes … a red tongue for raw meat … and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fox in me … a silver-gray fox … I sniff and guess … I pick things out of the wind and air … I nose in the dark night and take sleepers and eat them and hide the feathers … I circle and loop and double-cross.

There is a hog in me … a snout and a belly … a machinery for eating and grunting … a machinery for sleeping satisfied in the sun—I got this too from the wilderness and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fish in me … I know I came from saltblue water-gates … I scurried with shoals of herring … I blew waterspouts with porpoises … before land was … before the water went down … before Noah … before the first chapter of Genesis.

There is a baboon in me … clambering-clawed … dog-faced … yawping a galoot’s hunger … hairy under the armpits … here are the hawk-eyed hankering men … here are the blond and blue-eyed women … here they hide curled asleep waiting … ready to snarl and kill … ready to sing and give milk … waiting—I keep the baboon because the wilderness says so.

There is an eagle in me and a mockingbird … and the eagle flies among the Rocky Mountains of my dreams and fights among the Sierra crags of what I want … and the mockingbird warbles in the early forenoon before the dew is gone, warbles in the underbrush of my Chattanoogas of hope, gushes over the blue Ozark foothills of my wishes—And I got the eagle and the mockingbird from the wilderness.

O, I got a zoo, I got a menagerie, inside my ribs, under my bony head, under my red-valve heart—and I got something else: it is a man-child heart, a woman-child heart: it is a father and mother and lover: it came from God-Knows-Where: it is going to God-Knows-Where—For I am the keeper of the zoo: I say yes and no: I sing and kill and work: I am a pal of the world: I came from the wilderness.