Languages

By Carl Sandburg 1878–1967 Carl Sandburg
THERE are no handles upon a language
Whereby men take hold of it
And mark it with signs for its remembrance.
It is a river, this language,
Once in a thousand years
Breaking a new course
Changing its way to the ocean.
It is mountain effluvia
Moving to valleys
And from nation to nation
Crossing borders and mixing.
Languages die like rivers.
Words wrapped round your tongue today
And broken to shape of thought
Between your teeth and lips speaking
Now and today
Shall be faded hieroglyphics
Ten thousand years from now.
Sing—and singing—remember
Your song dies and changes
And is not here to-morrow
Any more than the wind
Blowing ten thousand years ago.

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Poet Carl Sandburg 1878–1967

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Time & Brevity, Living

Poetic Terms Metaphor, Ars Poetica

 Carl  Sandburg

Biography

"Trying to write briefly about Carl Sandburg," said a friend of the poet, "is like trying to picture the Grand Canyon in one black and white snapshot." His range of interests was enumerated by his close friend, Harry Golden, who, in his study of the poet, called Sandburg "the one American writer who distinguished himself in five fields—poetry, history, biography, fiction, and music."

Sandburg composed his poetry primarily in . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Living

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Poetic Terms Metaphor, Ars Poetica

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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