Poetry Review: “Flat Lands” by Carl Sandburg

sandburgstampI have been thinking lately of poems about stars… or poems where lines about stars figure prominently. There are many. For the month of November, MontanaWriter will be featuring a few old and new favorite-poems about stars (“old” and “new” favorites for me anyway).

Today’s poem is “Flat Land” by Carl Sandburg. It comes from his second volume of poetry, Cornhuskers. The poems in Cornhuskers are certainly not as well-known as those from Sandburg’s first volume, Chicago Poems. Indeed most, if not all, of Sandburg’s usually anthologized –and hence recognizable – poetry comes from that first volume of published poems.Cornhuskers though should not be overlooked. There are many, many fine poems in it.

As I continue to work my way through Carl Sandburg’s Collected Poems, Sandburg’s stature for me continues to grow. I wonder again and again why I neglected taking him seriously until I was in my 50s.

I invite readers of MontanaWriter, those aged 50 or better, but mostly those under the half-centurion mark, to “get about the business” of reading Sandburg as soon as possible. I can promise you that you will be glad you did.

On the first Friday in November, a Sandburg poems seems like just the thing.

Enjoy!

Flat Lands
Flat lands on the end of town where real estate men are crying new subdivisions,
The sunsets pour blood and fire over you hundreds and hundreds of nights, flat lands—blood and fire of sunsets thousands of years have been pouring over you.
And the stars follow the sunsets. One gold star. A shower of blue stars. Blurs of white and gray stars. Vast marching processions of stars arching over you flat lands where frogs sob this April night.
“Lots for Sale—Easy Terms” run letters painted on a board—and the stars wheel onward, the frogs sob this April night.

 

Listening with a pencil and my ear, these are the lines I marked:

The sunsets pour blood and fire over you hundreds and hundreds of nights, flat lands—blood and fire of sunsets thousands of years have been pouring over you.
And the stars follow the sunsets. One gold star. A shower of blue stars. Blurs of white and gray stars. Vast marching processions of stars arching over you flat lands where frogs sob this April night.

One of the things I have come to appreciate most about Sandburg is the way he uses repetition of words and repetition of phrases: musically, structurally, and for thematic emphasis. In these lines we see a master at work.

Comments are closed.