Carl Sandburg

Grass by Carl Sandburg

Festival FaceCarl Sandburg's "Grass" is a three-stanza poem in free verse with simple words expressing a profound message. The dominant figure of speech in the poem is personification, which turns the grass into a person who observes wars and cleans up after them. 

Carl Sandburg (American)



I have been watching the war map slammed up for
     advertising in front of the newspaper office.
Buttons--red and yellow buttons--blue and black buttons--
     are shoved back and forth across the map.

A laughing young man, sunny with freckles,
Climbs a ladder, yells a joke to somebody in the crowd,
And then fixes a yellow button one inch west
And follows the yellow button with a black button one
     inch west.

(Ten thousand men and boys twist on their bodies in
     a red soak along a river edge,
Gasping of wounds, calling for water, some rattling
     death in their throats.)

Who by Christ would guess what it cost to movetwo buttons one
     inch on the war map here in front of the newspaper
     office where the freckle-faced young man is laughing
     to us?