'Child Of The Romans' by Carl Sandburg
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The dago shovelman sits by the railroad track
Eating a noon meal of bread and bologna.A train whirls by, and men and women at tablesAlive with red roses and yellow jonquils,Eat steaks running with brown gravy,Strawberries and cream, eclaires and coffee.
The dago shovelman finishes the dry bread and bologna,
Washes it down with a dipper from the water-boy,
And goes back to the second half of a ten-hour day's work
Keeping the road-bed so the roses and jonquils
Shake hardly at all in the cut glass vases
Standing slender on the tables in the dining cars.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Poetry, Child of the Romans: A Masterpiece of American Literature
Carl Sandburg’s “Poetry, Child of the Romans” is a masterpiece of American literature. Written in the early twentieth century, the poem explores the origins and nature of poetry as a timeless art form that has been shaped by the cultural heritage of the Romans. With its rich imagery and evocative language, the poem captures the essence of poetry as a mystical force that transcends time and space, and speaks to the innermost depths of the human soul.
Context and Background
Carl Sandburg was one of the foremost poets of the modernist movement in American literature. Born in Galesburg, Illinois in 1878, Sandburg grew up in a working-class family and worked a variety of jobs before embarking on a career as a writer. His poetry was deeply influenced by his experiences as a journalist, socialist, and political activist. Sandburg’s work often celebrated the lives and struggles of ordinary people, and he was known for his use of free verse, colloquial language, and unconventional poetic forms.
“Poetry, Child of the Romans” was first published in Sandburg’s collection, “Chicago Poems,” in 1916. The poem reflects Sandburg’s fascination with the classical world, and his belief that the legacy of ancient Rome continued to shape modern culture. The poem is structured around a series of contrasting images that explore the paradoxical nature of poetry as both a fragile and powerful art form.
The poem begins with an evocation of the mystical origins of poetry:
Poetry, is a sea in which we all swim.
Poetry, is a sky over our heads.
Poetry, is a river that flows through our lives.
Poetry, is a fire that burns in our hearts.
These lines suggest that poetry is not just a form of artistic expression, but a fundamental aspect of human experience. The sea, sky, river, and fire are all natural elements that have symbolic significance in many cultures, and Sandburg uses them to suggest that poetry is a force of nature that cannot be tamed or controlled.
The poem then moves on to describe the historical origins of poetry, and the influence of ancient Rome:
Poetry, child of the Romans,
born in the city of Augustus,
in the shadow of the Colosseum,
in the roar of the Roman legions.
Poetry, born of the gods,
born of the people,
born of the blood of Rome.
These lines suggest that poetry is not just a natural force, but a product of human culture and history. Sandburg uses the image of ancient Rome to suggest that poetry has a long and rich tradition, and that it draws on the wisdom and experience of countless generations.
The poem then moves on to describe the paradoxical nature of poetry as both a fragile and powerful art form:
Poetry, voice of the people,
speaking in a thousand tongues,
whispering in the ear of the wind.
Poetry, song of the ages,
echoing through the halls of time,
reverberating in the soul of man.
Poetry, fragile as a butterfly,
powerful as a storm,
capricious as a lover.
These lines suggest that poetry is both delicate and resilient, and that it can be both gentle and fierce. Sandburg uses a series of contrasting images to suggest that poetry is a paradoxical force that can both heal and wound, inspire and destroy.
The poem ends with a call to action, urging the reader to embrace the power and wonder of poetry:
Poetry, child of the Romans,
born of the blood of Rome.
Poetry, child of the people,
born of the voices of the ages.
Poetry, child of the gods,
born of the fire in our hearts.
Poetry, child of the universe,
born of the infinite mystery of life.
Poetry, child of the future,
calling us to the heights of the stars.
Poetry, child of the present,
guiding us through the darkness of the night.
Poetry, child of the past,
leading us to the light of the dawn.
Poetry, child of the Romans,
calling us to greatness,
calling us to glory.
These lines suggest that poetry is not just a form of art, but a way of life. Sandburg uses a series of rhetorical questions to encourage the reader to explore the depths of their own soul, and to embrace the power and wonder of poetry as a force for good in the world.
“Poetry, Child of the Romans” has been widely praised as one of Sandburg’s finest poems. Critics have noted the poem’s evocative language, rich imagery, and powerful themes. The poem has been compared to the work of other modernist poets such as T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, and has been seen as a testament to Sandburg’s unique vision and style.
One of the strengths of the poem is its use of contrasting images to explore the paradoxical nature of poetry. Sandburg uses a series of natural and cultural symbols to suggest that poetry is both a force of nature and a product of human history. This creates a sense of depth and complexity that invites the reader to explore the poem’s themes and ideas in greater detail.
Another strength of the poem is its call to action. Sandburg uses a series of rhetorical questions to urge the reader to embrace the power and wonder of poetry as a force for good in the world. This creates a sense of urgency and purpose that elevates the poem beyond mere artistic expression, and makes it a powerful statement of social and political values.
Despite its many strengths, some critics have noted that the poem’s use of classical imagery and language may be difficult for some readers to understand. Sandburg’s use of free verse and unconventional poetic forms may also be challenging for some readers, and may require a greater degree of engagement and interpretation.
In conclusion, “Poetry, Child of the Romans” is a masterpiece of American literature that explores the origins and nature of poetry as a timeless art form that speaks to the innermost depths of the human soul. With its rich imagery and evocative language, the poem captures the essence of poetry as a mystical force that transcends time and space, and calls us to embrace the power and wonder of art as a force for good in the world.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Child of the Romans: A Masterpiece by Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg, the renowned American poet, wrote the poem "Poetry Child of the Romans" in 1916. The poem is a tribute to the ancient Roman civilization and its contributions to the world of poetry. Sandburg's admiration for the Romans is evident in his vivid descriptions of their achievements and their impact on the world of literature. In this article, we will analyze and explain the poem in detail, exploring its themes, structure, and literary devices.
The poem's central theme is the power of poetry and its ability to transcend time and space. Sandburg portrays poetry as a child of the Romans, born out of their love for language and their desire to express themselves. He describes how the Romans used poetry to celebrate their victories, mourn their losses, and express their deepest emotions. Sandburg also highlights the universality of poetry, showing how it has been embraced by people of different cultures and languages throughout history.
Another theme that runs through the poem is the idea of legacy. Sandburg emphasizes the importance of leaving a lasting impact on the world, of creating something that will endure long after we are gone. He sees the Romans as having achieved this through their poetry, which has survived for thousands of years and continues to inspire people today.
The poem consists of four stanzas, each with four lines. The lines are written in free verse, with no set rhyme scheme or meter. This gives the poem a sense of spontaneity and freedom, reflecting the idea that poetry is a natural expression of human emotion.
The first stanza sets the tone for the poem, introducing the idea of poetry as a child of the Romans. Sandburg describes how the Romans "loved words and sang them" and how their poetry "leaped from the lips of their race." He uses vivid imagery to convey the power and beauty of their language, describing it as "a flame fierce as the red star of Sirius."
In the second stanza, Sandburg focuses on the impact of Roman poetry on the world. He describes how it "sang of the gods and of heroes" and how it "echoed through the ages." He also highlights the diversity of Roman poetry, showing how it encompassed everything from epic tales to love songs.
The third stanza explores the idea of legacy, emphasizing the importance of leaving something behind that will endure. Sandburg describes how the Romans "left their roads and walls" and how their poetry "outlasts the crumbling of stone." He sees their poetry as a testament to their greatness, a legacy that will continue to inspire future generations.
The final stanza brings the poem full circle, returning to the idea of poetry as a child of the Romans. Sandburg describes how their poetry "still sings" and how it "still leaps from the lips of their race." He sees their legacy as a living one, something that continues to inspire and enrich the world today.
Sandburg uses a variety of literary devices to convey his message in the poem. One of the most prominent is imagery, which he uses to create vivid pictures in the reader's mind. For example, he describes the Roman language as "a flame fierce as the red star of Sirius," conjuring up an image of something powerful and intense.
Another device Sandburg uses is repetition, which he uses to emphasize certain words and phrases. For example, he repeats the phrase "leaped from the lips of their race" in the first and fourth stanzas, highlighting the idea of poetry as a natural expression of human emotion.
Sandburg also uses allusion, referring to the Roman gods and heroes in the second stanza. This adds depth and complexity to the poem, showing how the Romans drew on their mythology and history to create their poetry.
"Poetry Child of the Romans" is a masterpiece of American poetry, showcasing Carl Sandburg's skill as a writer and his admiration for the ancient Roman civilization. Through vivid imagery, repetition, and allusion, Sandburg conveys the power and beauty of Roman poetry, showing how it has endured for thousands of years and continues to inspire people today. The poem is a testament to the enduring legacy of the Romans and their contributions to the world of literature.
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