Mr. Attila

By Carl Sandburg 1878–1967 Carl Sandburg
They made a myth of you, professor,
     you of the gentle voice,
     the books, the specs,
     the furitive rabbit manners
     in the mortar-board cap
     and the medieval gown.

They didn’t think it, eh professor?
On account of you’re so absent-minded,
you bumping into the tree and saying,
“Excuse me, I thought you were a tree,”
passing on again blank and absent-minded.

Now it’s “Mr. Attila, how do you do?”
Do you pack wallops of wholesale death?
Are you the practical dynamic son-of-a-gun?
Have you come through with a few abstractions?
Is it you Mr. Attila we hear saying,
“I beg your pardon but we believe we have made some degree of progress on the residual qualities of the atom”?
                                                                                 [August, 1945]

Carl Sandburg, “Mr. Attila” from The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg. Copyright © 1970 by Carl Sandburg. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Source: The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1970)

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Poet Carl Sandburg 1878–1967

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Activities, School & Learning

 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 Activities, School & Learning

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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