Carl Sandburg Grass Summary

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Cleaning Up the Mess: Repetition, Free Verse, and Verbage in Carl Sandburg’s “Grass” When we think of nature, we often associate it with feelings of growth, strength, and beauty. Nature symbolizes re-birth, and our expectation of nature to soldier on in any situation represents perseverance. After natural disaster, human tragedy, war, etc., nature has the ability to cover up horrifying images in history. In his poem, “Grass,” Carl Sandburg uses repetition, verbs, and free verse to represent the forces of nature covering up the reality of an ugly, war-ridden and tragic history. The poem begins by telling the audience to “pile the bodies high”, at Austerlitz and Waterloo, both of these were significant battles in the Napoleonic wars, and both of which led to massive tragedy. Thousands were killed and buried in mass graves, which is where the reference “pile the bodies high” and “shovel them under” is referring. The same happens in the next stanza, which says to pile the bodies high at Gettysburg, a Civil War battle, and Ypres and Verdun, both World War I battles. After these “pile the bodies high” lines, there follows the same line: “Shovel them under and let me work.” The speaker, using first-person narration is identified in the last line of the first stanza, saying “I am the grass; I cover all.” The grass, or nature in general (one could even make the argument that this is Mother Nature speaking), is instructing the people to build these mass graves and cover
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