War Poetry Project!
By Carl Sandburg
Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work--
I am the grass; I cover them all.
And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?
I am the grass.
Let me work.
When first scrolling through the site, desperately trying to find a good poem for this assignment, I stumbled upon this one. The name, first off, popped out to me. It’s simplicity drew me in, how could a poem under the theme of war, be named “Grass”? And after reading it, I found that I really liked this poem. It was simple, but had a deeper meaning. Through analyzing it, I have come to the conclusion that this poem conveys a message about how the true horrors or real damages of war is being “pushed under the rug”, so to speak. The dead bodies of the war get piled high, and then the the grass “covers them all”. In a sense, this could mean that war can be nothing we had ever imagined, and some parts of it we will never see or know.
I chose this poem partially for the way it was structured. As you can see, the way it’s set up is interesting and different. At first, it intrigued me why the author chose to structure it like that. And to be completely honest, after a couple times analyzing and thinking hard, I couldn’t come up with a good, concrete answer as to why. The only observation I was able to come to conclusion is with the short sentences at the end of the bigger paragraphs. “I am the grass; I cover them all”, “What place is this? Where are we now?”, and “I am the grass. Let me work.” are all positioned in a way that makes them seem like after-thoughts. It was influential to me, because it made me think about it. The literary devices I could detect in this poem was personification. The grass acts like a narrator of the poem, with “I am the grass; I cover them all” or “I am the grass, let me work”. The grass is doing the “work” by covering the dead bodies. This could also act as a metaphor, because the grass is referring to being the same as that of a person: "I am the grass; Let me work". I couldn't quite find any other literary devices.
And here’s to my own poem that I tried to make as good as “Grass”:
Daisies and Daffodils
It’s hard to think that this meadow,
Now so beautiful, was once hell.
Soldiers fought with all strength,
butreali ty is what made them lose,
They were standing in line
For their own death,
Here they died, one by one,
In this now empty field,
Grown daisies and daffodils,
Who sway at the sound of chirping,
Not gunshots or screaming.
Once the ground was a layer of bodies,
Of rotting flesh and dying life.
Over the years, nature took over,
And now the beauty resides over the mess.
Is war over?
Will it happen again?
For now, let us look at the daisies and daffodils.
So, I realize in this process that I am not the best at writing poems, but I feel like I did a decent job at mirroring the poem I chose. Structure wise, I made the ending of my poem an “after-thought” by asking questions. The “Grass” poem talks about nature and how it created life again, over top of the hell of war, and that’s what I tried mimicking here with the daisies and daffodils sprouting on top of a meadow that was once a war zone. The literary devices shown in my poem was with the daisies and daffodils “swaying” at the sound of the birds chirping.