'Skyscraper' by Carl Sandburg

AI and Tech Aggregator
Download Mp3s Free
Tears of the Kingdom Roleplay
Best Free University Courses Online
TOTK Roleplay

By day the skyscraper looms in the smoke and sun andhas a soul.
Prairie and valley, streets of the city, pour people intoit and they mingle among its twenty floors and arepoured out again back to the streets, prairies andvalleys.
It is the men and women, boys and girls so poured in andout all day that give the building a soul of dreamsand thoughts and memories.
(Dumped in the sea or fixed in a desert, who would carefor the building or speak its name or ask a policemanthe way to it?)Elevators slide on their cables and tubes catch letters andparcels and iron pipes carry gas and water in andsewage out.
Wires climb with secrets, carry light and carry words,and tell terrors and profits and loves--curses of mengrappling plans of business and questions of womenin plots of love.Hour by hour the caissons reach down to the rock of theearth and hold the building to a turning planet.
Hour by hour the girders play as ribs and reach out andhold together the stone walls and floors.Hour by hour the hand of the mason and the stuff of themortar clinch the pieces and parts to the shape anarchitect voted.
Hour by hour the sun and the rain, the air and the rust,and the press of time running into centuries, playon the building inside and out and use it.Men who sunk the pilings and mixed the mortar are laidin graves where the wind whistles a wild songwithout words
And so are men who strung the wires and fixed the pipesand tubes and those who saw it rise floor by floor.
Souls of them all are here, even the hod carrier beggingat back doors hundreds of miles away and the brick-layer who went to state's prison for shooting anotherman while drunk.
(One man fell from a girder and broke his neck at theend of a straight plunge--he is here--his soul hasgone into the stones of the building.)On the office doors from tier to tier--hundreds of namesand each name standing for a face written acrosswith a dead child, a passionate lover, a drivingambition for a million dollar business or a lobster'sease of life.Behind the signs on the doors they work and the wallstell nothing from room to room.
Ten-dollar-a-week stenographers take letters fromcorporation officers, lawyers, efficiency engineers,and tons of letters go bundled from the building to allends of the earth.
Smiles and tears of each office girl go into the soul ofthe building just the same as the master-men whorule the building.Hands of clocks turn to noon hours and each floorempties its men and women who go away and eatand come back to work.
Toward the end of the afternoon all work slackens andall jobs go slower as the people feel day closing onthem.
One by one the floors are emptied. . . The uniformedelevator men are gone. Pails clang. . . Scrubberswork, talking in foreign tongues. Broom and waterand mop clean from the floors human dust and spit,and machine grime of the day.
Spelled in electric fire on the roof are words tellingmiles of houses and people where to buy a thing formoney. The sign speaks till midnight.Darkness on the hallways. Voices echo. Silenceholds. . . Watchmen walk slow from floor to floorand try the doors. Revolvers bulge from their hippockets. . . Steel safes stand in corners. Moneyis stacked in them.
A young watchman leans at a window and sees the lightsof barges butting their way across a harbor, nets ofred and white lanterns in a railroad yard, and a spanof glooms splashed with lines of white and blurs ofcrosses and clusters over the sleeping city.
By night the skyscraper looms in the smoke and the starsand has a soul.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Skyscraper: A Poem of Modernity and Ambition

Carl Sandburg's "Skyscraper" is a magnificent piece of poetry that captures the essence of modernity and ambition in a way that is both striking and poetic. This poem is a testament to the human spirit and its drive to excel, to reach new heights, and to attain the unattainable. In this literary analysis, we will explore the meaning and significance of this poem, its themes, and its use of literary devices.

Background on Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg was an American poet, journalist, and songwriter who lived from 1878 to 1967. He was born in Galesburg, Illinois, and spent most of his life in the Midwest. Sandburg worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News for several years before becoming a full-time writer. He published his first book of poetry, "Chicago Poems," in 1916, which contained the famous poem "Chicago."

Sandburg was known for his ability to capture the spirit of America in his poetry. His works often dealt with social and political issues, including the struggles of working-class people and the impact of industrialization on society. He was also a biographer and wrote a six-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln, which won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1940.

Analysis of "Skyscraper"


"Skyscraper" is a poem about a tall building that represents the ambition and modernity of the city. The poem consists of seven stanzas, each with four lines. The lines are short and choppy, which creates a sense of urgency and excitement. The poem is written in free verse, which means it doesn't follow a strict rhyme or rhythm scheme.


The poem explores several themes, including ambition, modernity, and the human desire to reach new heights. The skyscraper in the poem is a symbol of these themes, representing the ambition and progress of the city. The poem also touches on the theme of isolation, as the skyscraper stands alone in the city, towering over everything else.

Literary Devices

"Skyscraper" uses several literary devices to convey its message. The most notable is metaphor, as the skyscraper is used to represent the city's ambition and progress. Sandburg also uses personification, as he describes the building as having a "soul" and a "heart." This gives the building human-like qualities and makes it easier for the reader to relate to it.

Another important literary device in the poem is repetition. Sandburg repeats the phrase "It is the city" throughout the poem, which emphasizes the importance of the building and its connection to the city.


The poem can be interpreted in several ways, but one of the most common is that it represents the American Dream. The skyscraper is a symbol of ambition and progress, which are two key components of the American Dream. The poem also touches on the theme of isolation, which could be interpreted as a commentary on the individualistic nature of American society.

The poem can also be interpreted as a celebration of modernity and technology. The skyscraper is a product of modern technology, and its height represents the advancements that have been made in construction and engineering.


"Skyscraper" is a powerful poem that captures the essence of modernity and ambition. Through the use of metaphor, personification, and repetition, Sandburg creates a vivid image of the skyscraper and its importance to the city. The poem can be interpreted in several ways, but its underlying message is one of progress and the human desire to reach new heights. Overall, "Skyscraper" is a testament to the power of human ambition and the potential for greatness that lies within us all.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Poetry Skyscraper: An Ode to the Power of Words

Carl Sandburg's "Poetry Skyscraper" is a towering masterpiece that celebrates the power of poetry to uplift and inspire. Written in 1916, this poem is a testament to the enduring relevance of poetry as an art form that can transcend time and space.

At its core, the "Poetry Skyscraper" is a metaphor for the power of words to reach great heights and touch the hearts and minds of people across the world. Sandburg uses the image of a skyscraper to convey the idea that poetry can rise above the mundane and the ordinary, and reach for the heavens.

The poem begins with the speaker describing the construction of the skyscraper, with its steel girders and concrete pillars. He then goes on to compare this towering structure to the power of poetry, which he sees as a force that can lift people up and inspire them to greatness.

Sandburg writes, "It is the voice of the people, / the voice of the laughing mouth, / the voice of the sensitive soul." Here, he is emphasizing the democratic nature of poetry, which can speak to people from all walks of life, regardless of their social status or background.

The poem also highlights the transformative power of poetry, which can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Sandburg writes, "It is the thinking of men that builded / The lofty walls and the dreaming spires." Here, he is suggesting that poetry can help us to see the world in a new light, and to imagine possibilities that we might not have considered before.

Sandburg's use of imagery is particularly striking in this poem. He describes the skyscraper as "a peak against blue sky," and "a flame that leaps upward." These images convey a sense of energy and vitality, as well as a feeling of awe and wonder.

The poem also contains a sense of urgency, as if the speaker is urging us to embrace the power of poetry before it is too late. Sandburg writes, "The time is now, the place is here." He is reminding us that poetry is not something that we can put off until tomorrow, but something that we must embrace in the present moment.

Overall, the "Poetry Skyscraper" is a powerful ode to the enduring power of poetry. Sandburg's use of metaphor and imagery is masterful, and his message is one that is as relevant today as it was over a century ago. In a world that can often feel chaotic and uncertain, poetry can provide a sense of stability and hope, and help us to see the world in a new light.

Editor Recommended Sites

Business Process Model and Notation - BPMN Tutorials & BPMN Training Videos: Learn how to notate your business and developer processes in a standardized way
Emerging Tech: Emerging Technology - large Language models, Latent diffusion, AI neural networks, graph neural networks, LLM reasoning systems, ontology management for LLMs, Enterprise healthcare Fine tuning for LLMs
Realtime Data: Realtime data for streaming and processing
Multi Cloud Tips: Tips on multicloud deployment from the experts
Multi Cloud Ops: Multi cloud operations, IAC, git ops, and CI/CD across clouds

Recommended Similar Analysis

In Memory Of My Mother by Patrick Kavanagh analysis
The Nymph's Reply by Sir Walter Ralegh analysis
Love's Deity by John Donne analysis
The Voice by Sarah Teasdale analysis
Oak and The Broom, The: A Pastoral Poem by William Wordsworth analysis
Home Thoughts, From Abroad by Robert Browning analysis
Lamb , The by William Blake analysis
A light exists in spring by Emily Dickinson analysis
Wild Oats by Philip Larkin analysis
The Young British Soldier by Rudyard Kipling analysis