Autumn Movement

I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts. 



 by Carl Sandburg


Autumn Movement


I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts. 


The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper 

   sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds. 


The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, 

   new beautiful things come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, 

   and the old things go, not one lasts. 






Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo. 

Shovel them under and let me work--

          I am the grass; I cover 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 the passengers ask the conductor:

          What place is this?

          Where are we now?


          I am the grass.

          Let me work. 







Hog Butcher for the World, 

Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, 

Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler; 

Stormy, husky, brawling, 

City of the Big Shoulders: 


They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I 

have seen your painted women under the gas lamps 

luring the farm boys. 

And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it 

is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to 

kill again. 

And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the 

faces of women and children I have seen the marks 

of wanton hunger. 

And having answered so I turn once more to those who 

sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer 

and say to them: 

Come and show me another city with lifted head singing 

so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning. 

Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on 

job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the 

little soft cities; 


Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning 

as a savage pitted against the wilderness, 






Building, breaking, rebuilding, 


Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with 

white teeth, 

Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young 

man laughs, 

Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has 

never lost a battle, 

Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, 

and under his ribs the heart of the people, 




Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of 

Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog 

Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with 

Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation. 

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