poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

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.

by this poet

poem
There are no handles upon a language 
Whereby men take hold of it 
And mark it with signs for its remembrance. 
It is a river, this language, 
Once in a thousand years 
Breaking a new course 
Changing its way to the ocean. 
It is mountain effluvia 
Moving to valleys 
And from nation to nation 
Crossing borders
poem
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
poem
I spot the hills 
With yellow balls in autumn. 
I light the prairie cornfields 
Orange and tawny gold clusters 
And I am called pumpkins. 
On the last of October 
When dusk is fallen 
Children join hands 
And circle round me 
Singing ghost songs 
And love to the harvest moon; 
I am a jack-o'-lantern 
With