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Carl Sandburg Poem Analysis


When looking at Carl Sandburg’s poetry, we shall be focusing on his work as an American poet who wrote different poems for different purposes including the following:

  • The fog
  • Themes in yellow
  • Who am I
  • Chicago
  • Happiness
  • Under the harvest moon
  • Who Am I and much more

In comparison we shall look at the different poetic devices used in the different poems including:

  • The theme
  • Personification
  • Lines and figurative language
  • Rhythm and form
  • Imagery and many more others

We are going to focus on his great work in writing poems and compare the different structures used in different poems. Starting with the theme in yellow we can have an overview of the characteristics. On the overall look for the poems written by Carl Sandburg the observation made for Chicago

Theme in Yellow

Starting with the setting of the poem looking at the imagery of autumn and the many changes involved as the speaker tries to create the setting to be in a much vivid imagination form and for the time involved there is little variation since autumn is always almost similar for every period.

When looking at the speaker in the context, we can see that there is much use of the words I and me in the poem implying the poem are much formal, hence the use of personification and formal language (Matelau, 2013). When it comes to the form of the poem we can also deduce that there is no specific form used in the poem since if we look at, for example lines 6-11 the poem is free verse and these lines have a common thought and imagery that is captured the last month of October.

In sound characteristics, it is evident that the poem is formal therefore the entire poem sound has the same conversation, such that we have some sense of alliteration in the part “terrible teeth”. From the above, we find that Carl Sandburg work is based on the personification and writing content based on nature vs. human kind. Now we are going to look at Carl Sandburg’s under the harvest moon and try to look at how it compares with the above content.


Under The Harvest Moon

From this poem, we can see that our writer just like in the above context tries to involve the use of smaller lines in his writing, for instance, looking at lines one to eight we find that their lengths are little smaller just like those in the poem Theme in Yellow.

On looking at the theme of the poem we can see that it is talking about love as when we look at the part the harvest moon, which in real life brings light during the night ,but for the light coming from the harvest moon we can see it give symbol of someone trying to remember. Also from the second stanza, we can see a transition of events as the leaves are drying, but we can see the beauty in this death as with it shows the reminder as it falls to remember the happy moments there were. This feeling is so unanswerable and tends to give us questions we can’t really comprehend as to how a bad ending can possess a smile, the part of being in love.

In this poem, we can see that there is no use of words preferable for personification, but when we look at line six “comes and whispers to you” shows personification in the content as we can see its given the human capability to talk and whisper to someone as expressed by the writer. Also, there is some sense of personification observed in the lines thirteen and fourteen as love is given that human ability to touch as expressed by the line “love, with little hands, comes and touches you.” From the above, we can see that Carl Sandburg is using natural phenomena to express nonphysical contents such as love and this like in the above the understanding of the geographical world helps him express his content in a much understandable manner.

The last poem we are going to look at is the poem Happiness which we shall also look for the comparison it has with the other two.



From this poem Happiness, something the poet is trying very much to understand very well what it means. First on the theme of the poem the writer is talking about happiness and what it really means. Something that can’t be touched and defined in general terms, but can only be defined through observation and feeling. For instance, the poet tries to dig out the meaning of what happiness is all about and doing this, he goes to the most literate and most knowledgeable people who he believes will help him understand what seems to be difficult for him.

Looking at this poem, we find that the poet’s desire to get the right answer fails, since the only people he knew will be well informed about the knowledge he seeks can’t help him. Ongoing an extra mile and just by observing Hungarians lifestyles he tends to get answers to work he so much seeks. That happiness can’t be defined, but by mere observation of those people, he got the answer as to what happiness is that it can be expressed in different ways, and there is no specific definition of what it is, something he understands since even the most educated couldn’t help him with answering it.

When looking at the features good this poem, we can see that the content is a formal conversation and from the first stanza the first line and second line there is the use of the words I and on very many occasions through the poem we see that this poem is much formal, and this comes out personification content.

On the other side, we can also observe irony in the poem since the poet went for the most educated persons to answer the obvious question he had but then he seems not to be informed of what it is which brings out a sense of irony.



Now from the three poems we have looked at:

  • Theme in Yellow
  • Under the harvest moon
  • Happiness

We can see that Carl Sandburg hard a better understanding of the geographical world and he could use it to explain the non-physical situations in a much more understandable way. For instance, the things to do with love, happiness all of which he explains using the general day to day activities. Also from these poems, we can see that the writer uses small lines to express his content as shown below:



When it comes to the critics of Carl Sandburg’s work we look at some who admired his work and they included Sherwood Anderson and Amy Lovell who had a liking for Carl Sandburg’s poem Chicago and they considered it to be listed as one of the most original books produced for this age while Mencken called Sandburg’s work to be a true original as his own man.

On the other side, a literary commentator Joseph Epstein made an observation on Carl Sandburg’s work and mentioned him to be the one American poet who had a chance to make an address to the Congress



Matelau, T. (2013). Poems on Māori identity: From multimodal interaction analysis to poetry. Journal Multimodal Communication, 2(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/mc-2013-0005

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