It is a fine art possessed by a skilled artist who can take ordinary words and paint by their means a picture that makes the reader see beyond the words. That is exactly what makes Carl Sandburg’s poem “Grass” fine.
Carl Sandburg’s “Grass” is a short poem – 11lines only - written in free verse. The poet does not use profound words; the poem is structured as the narrative. However, there are many different messages conveyed. Even though the free verse does not require rhythm or rhyme, Sandburg uses the repetition to create a pattern and a structure. This pattern is also similar to the seasons change, times change and cycles of life. The absence of rhyme does not weaken the poem, to the contrary, it adds to its depth. It also allows the reader to have a choice in interpretation and analyzing of the poem. However, Sandburg does not leave interpretation entirely up to the reader. He wants his message to get across. For this purpose he uses key words and phrases as well as special formatting. The attention of the reader is drawn to the first word as it is written in capital. Immediately the picture is fashioned of countless bodies of those who died in the battle, in different locations, but they are similarly left on the battlefield and forgotten.
The narrator is the grass. The poet takes an inanimate object and personifies it, making him sound human, grumpy, sarcastic and sage. The way it narrates gives a feeling the grass is irritated it has to do work; it is aggravated by the fact that no one cares and the bodies have to be just shoved. The repetition makes it sound murmuring. The grass, the nature is not satisfied with what it has to witness. I had seen many significant battles; the grass is ageless. Five of those battles are mentioned in the poem and all of them resulted in numerous casualties. The grass wisely covers the crimes of wars as well as the hurts. Life continues. Grass keeps on growing, it moves on. Whatever humans attempt to do, the grass will grow again, the land will be healed and there will be a new beginning.
Even though the grass, which is symbolic with time, covers the past and it goes into oblivion, it should not be forgotten. The history should not be left behind. Even though no names will survive the time, the memory of those battles should live on. The time will pass and no traces will be left of the terrible events. But the grass will always remember it.
There is also a measure of suspense in the poem – there is a mysterious passenger and a conductor, who are passing though the places the grass had to do its simple work of covering. Maybe, it’s someone from the future just passing by and not even knowing what took place here at one point in time. Maybe, it is God himself taking them on a journey. There are no answers to their questions. It is up to the reader to answer.
Only several lines allow a reader to live though the poem, to think, to come to conclusions. There are no excessive words. The poem is simple and precise. It is just enough. It can be applied to many life battles. That is what makes it excellent. That is what makes it fine.