'Wars' by Carl Sandburg
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In the old wars drum of hoofs and the beat of shod feet.
In the new wars hum of motors and the tread of rubber tires.
In the wars to come silent wheels and whirr of rods notyet dreamed out in the heads of men.In the old wars clutches of short swords and jabs intofaces with spears.
In the new wars long range guns and smashed walls, gunsrunning a spit of metal and men falling in tens andtwenties.
In the wars to come new silent deaths, new silent hurlersnot yet dreamed out in the heads of men.In the old wars kings quarreling and thousands of menfollowing.
In the new wars kings quarreling and millions of menfollowing.
In the wars to come kings kicked under the dust andmillions of men following great causes not yetdreamed out in the heads of men.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Poetry, Wars: A Critical Interpretation of Carl Sandburg's Work
Carl Sandburg's Poetry, Wars is an anthology of poems that offer a unique perspective on the nature of war and its impact on human beings. Written during a time of great global conflict, these poems explore the complex emotions and experiences of soldiers and civilians alike, from the trenches of World War I to the streets of Chicago during the Great Depression. In this critical interpretation, we will explore Sandburg's use of language, metaphor, and imagery to convey his message about the futility of war and the resilience of the human spirit.
The Theme of War
One of the dominant themes in Poetry, Wars is the destructive power of war and its impact on both individuals and society as a whole. Sandburg's poems are filled with vivid descriptions of the horrors of war, from the smell of death and decay to the sights and sounds of battle. In "Grass," for example, Sandburg personifies the grass as a witness to the countless deaths that have occurred on the battlefield:
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 passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?
Sandburg's use of repetition and imagery in this poem creates a powerful sense of the overwhelming nature of war and its impact on the natural world.
The Human Cost of War
Another important theme in Poetry, Wars is the human cost of war, both in terms of physical and emotional damage. In "Chicago," Sandburg describes the struggles of working-class families during the Great Depression, painting a picture of a city that is broken and struggling to survive:
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:
Sandburg's use of powerful, evocative language in this poem conveys the sense of struggle and hardship that many Americans faced during this time period. He also draws on his own experiences as a labor organizer and socialist to show the ways in which economic and social inequality contribute to the suffering of ordinary people.
The Power of Resilience
Despite the many horrors and challenges that he describes in Poetry, Wars, Sandburg also emphasizes the resilience and strength of the human spirit. In "I Am the People, the Mob," he celebrates the power of ordinary people to come together and effect change in their communities:
I am the people—the mob—the crowd—the mass.
Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me?
I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the world's food and clothes.
I am the audience that witnesses history. The Napoleons come from me and the Lincolns. They die. And then I send forth more Napoleons and Lincolns.
Here, Sandburg uses metaphor and repetition to emphasize the importance of collective action and the power of ordinary people to shape their own destinies. He also draws on the idea of historical continuity, showing how the struggles and achievements of previous generations have paved the way for future progress.
In Poetry, Wars, Carl Sandburg offers a powerful and moving exploration of the impact of war on human beings and society. Through his use of language, metaphor, and imagery, he creates a vivid picture of the horrors and struggles faced by soldiers and civilians alike. However, he also emphasizes the resilience and strength of the human spirit, showing how ordinary people can come together to effect change and shape their own destinies. Overall, Poetry, Wars is a testament to the power of poetry to capture the complex emotions and experiences of the human condition, even in the face of the most difficult and challenging of circumstances.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Wars: A Classic Masterpiece by Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg's Poetry Wars is a classic masterpiece that delves into the world of poetry and the controversies surrounding it. The poem is a reflection of the poet's own experiences and observations of the literary world during his time. Sandburg's work is a powerful commentary on the nature of poetry and the role it plays in society.
The poem is divided into three parts, each exploring a different aspect of poetry. The first part deals with the idea of poetry as a form of expression. Sandburg argues that poetry is not just a form of entertainment but a means of expressing one's deepest emotions and thoughts. He believes that poetry should be honest and authentic, reflecting the poet's true self.
Sandburg's view of poetry as a means of expression is evident in the lines, "Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, / Wanting to fly in the air." Here, Sandburg compares the poet to a sea animal, emphasizing the poet's desire to express themselves freely. The metaphor of the sea animal wanting to fly in the air highlights the poet's longing to break free from the constraints of society and express themselves in their own unique way.
The second part of the poem deals with the idea of poetry as a form of communication. Sandburg believes that poetry should not only express the poet's thoughts and emotions but also communicate them to the reader. He argues that poetry should be accessible to everyone, not just the elite few who can understand its complexities.
Sandburg's view of poetry as a form of communication is evident in the lines, "Poetry is the report of a conversation between what is and what should be." Here, Sandburg emphasizes the importance of poetry in bridging the gap between reality and the ideal. He believes that poetry should be a means of communicating the poet's vision of a better world to the reader.
The third and final part of the poem deals with the controversies surrounding poetry. Sandburg acknowledges that poetry has always been a subject of debate and controversy. He believes that this is because poetry is a reflection of society and its values. Sandburg argues that poetry should not be judged based on its form or style but on its ability to communicate and express the poet's thoughts and emotions.
Sandburg's view of poetry as a subject of controversy is evident in the lines, "Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, / Leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during the moment." Here, Sandburg emphasizes the subjective nature of poetry. He believes that poetry should be open to interpretation and that the reader should be allowed to form their own opinions about it.
In conclusion, Carl Sandburg's Poetry Wars is a powerful commentary on the nature of poetry and the controversies surrounding it. Sandburg's work is a reflection of his own experiences and observations of the literary world during his time. The poem is divided into three parts, each exploring a different aspect of poetry. Sandburg's view of poetry as a means of expression, communication, and controversy is evident throughout the poem. Poetry Wars is a classic masterpiece that continues to inspire and challenge readers to this day.
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