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About this Poem 

“Passers-By” was published in Sandburg’s book Chicago Poems (H. Hold and Company, 1916).

Passers-by

Passers-by,
Out of your many faces
Flash memories to me
Now at the day end
Away from the sidewalks
Where your shoe soles traveled
And your voices rose and blent
To form the city’s afternoon roar
Hindering an old silence.

Passers-by,
I remember lean ones among you,
Throats in the clutch of a hope,
Lips written over with strivings,
Mouths that kiss only for love,
Records of great wishes slept with,
      Held long
And prayed and toiled for:

      Yes,
Written on
Your mouths
And your throats
I read them
When you passed by.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg was awarded three Pulitzer Prizes in his lifetime—the first in 1919 for his poetry collection Corn Huskers, the second in 1940 for his biography Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, and the third in 1951 for Complete Poems.

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Ain't they all in cahoots?
Ain't it fifty-fifty all down the line,
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The horse's name was Remorse.
There were people said, "Gee, what a nag!"
And they were Edgar Allan Poe bugs and so
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And threw dust in the noses of other ponies